Julian Champagne Feels ‘Looking Again’

History repeats itself for Julien Champagne.

Skeptics question him. Critics put holes in his game.

In high school, the label was that he wasn’t good enough to play college basketball. Now, after transforming himself into one of the best players in the Big East, he’s heard the same things about his NBA prospects.

“I’m so used to, ‘Oh, he’s not ready,’ or, ‘Oh, it’s not going to work,'” Champagne, the former St. John’s star from Brooklyn who has worked with 13 NBA teams, told The Post in a phone interview. “It’s the same feeling as being looked at.”

No matter what happens in the 2022 NBA Draft Thursday — the talented 6-foot-8 Champagnie remains a predictable mid-round pick, according to several scouts — even being in that position is somewhat annoying.

He was a poorly regarded two-star recruit at Bishop Loughlin High School. The other champagne was there, playing in the shadow of twin brother Justin. He remembers hearing from people in town at local leagues that he was “trash,” that he couldn’t play at the highest level in college basketball and would never be as good as Justin.

“These are the things I keep in my head [when I’m working out]he said. ‘This is the best fuel.’

NBA Draft
Julien Champagne
NBAE via Getty Images

One of the few high schools that wanted him was Pittsburgh. In fact, Jeff Cable was stalking the two brothers. The plan throughout high school was for them to go to middle school and go to college together. After the twins visited Pittsburgh, they both verbally committed to a cable. But Justin, the friendliest and most sociable, no longer wanted to wait a year. He was ready then. Julian didn’t just want to follow his brother. He stopped committing before this was announced.

“It took a lot of guts for Julian to say I was going to do something by myself and be my man,” said Adam Berkowitz, one of the AAU coaches with New Heights.

That spring, St. John made a change of coaching, replacing Mike Anderson with Chris Mullen, and Anderson appointing Van Macon as one of his assistants. Maconne, a native of Queens, was very familiar with Champagne, and saw in him something that others had not. Macon told Champagnie that he will play key minutes as a freshman and will be one of the program’s building blocks. More introverted than Justin, he loved the idea of ​​staying close to home and playing at the school where his father Ranford won a national soccer championship.

After a strong new season, Champagnie exploded as a sophomore, and led the Big East in scoring. Suddenly, the quiet, unrequited child became a star. This huge jump did not happen by chance. It was common practice to put in a champagnie in three days.

“It’s the hardest factor I’ve ever been around, legitimately,” said Chris Huey, St. John’s Basketball Operations Manager. “Whether I’m working out in the morning, or training and training with the team and then coming back at night, he’s worked more than anyone else I’ve been around before. That’s it. He’s not overly social, he doesn’t go out much. He loves the ball, he loves to be In the gym and wants to prove people wrong.”

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Julian Champagne shooting a jump shot for St. John.
Cory Sibkin

Champagnie, 20, has been the face of the program for the past two years, a leading goal scorer and rebel. He was the player of the line plotter, a player capable of scoring in all three levels and had recorded his career highs last year in steals, assists and blocking shots. Huey said he’s a “no maintenance kid,” on top of his professional work habits, loyalty and maturity.

However, there are still questions about whether he can defend the flankers in the NBA and do enough after the shot to earn a spot for himself in the league. He will almost certainly have to prove himself in the G-League initially.

“I’m an underdog, and that’s a good thing,” said Champagnie, who hopes to be the first St. John’s player to be recruited since Sir’Dominic Pointer was drafted into the second round (53rd place) in 2015. “I am just looking for an opportunity. Give me a chance and I will make the most of it.”

Champagnie recalled a conversation he had with an NBA coach, Edniesha Curry of the Trail Blazers. “Don’t let it eat you,” Carrie told him. “There are players who have been drafted and who will be out of the league in a year. Your story might be different.”

“It doesn’t define who you are,” said Carey.

Justin wasn’t selected, but he did get a two-way contract with the Raptors and appeared in 36 games for them. There are countless stories of incredible men who made it to the league. The most recent was Jose Alvarado, the former Christ the King star, who went without drafting last year and so impressed the Pelicans that they signed him to a four-year, $6.5 million deal in March.

However, those close to Champagnie are hopeful that his name will be called Thursday night. Justin remembered how upset he was when he wasn’t enlisted – his brother was there that night to comfort him – and that meant a lot not only to Champagne to be chosen, but for his brother as well. He knows how far his twin has come.

“Before he starts crying, I’m going to start crying,” Justin said. “He means the world to me, this kid. I love him to death. Just seeing his dream come true will make me feel like mine.”