Pitt’s Justin Champagnie headed to the NBA

Justin Champagnie, Pitt’s superstar sophomore basketball player, has worn his Pitt jersey for the last time. The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that Champagnie is entering the upcoming NBA Draft. He also intends to sign with an NCAA-certified agent, which no longer would make him eligible for collegiate play.

“My parents and my family have been my biggest supporters and they have made a lot of sacrifices to help put me in this position,” said Champagnie, in a statement from Pitt. “I am excited about the opportunity to pursue my NBA dreams and be in a position to pay them back for everything they have invested in me. The University of Pittsburgh has elevated me on and off the court. I love Coach Capel, the entire coaching staff and my teammates and will always be proud of the relationships I have built over the past two seasons. It was a difficult decision because Pitt has been such a special place in my development. I am going to miss the passionate support of the fans, especially the Oakland Zoo, but I know it is time to begin my professional career. I am prepared to take the next step, accept the next challenge and put in the work it takes to succeed at the next level.”

Champagnie, a first team All-ACC and honorable mention All-America selection, was the lone major conference player in the country to average a double-double for the season. He ranked among the conference leaders in nine categories and finished in the top 10 in the NCAA in rebounding (T-7th – 11.1 rpg.) and double-doubles (T-8th – 14).

“Justin has been a terrific member of our program for the past two years and has earned the opportunity to be a NBA Draft selection,” said head coach Jeff Capel, in a statement. “He put together an outstanding season under some difficult circumstances last year, earning All-America recognition and becoming Pitt’s first First Team All-ACC selection. We are proud of the way he has developed within the Pitt program and excited to see him continue to evolve as a player. Justin’s competitiveness, toughness and desire to help his family will continue to be driving factors in helping his game reach new levels. I believe he is just scratching the surface of the player he can become and look forward to watching him carve out a lengthy pro career. Justin has our love and support and will always be a part of the Pitt family.”

After Pitt had a number of players leave the program before season’s end, it was Champagnie who stuck around, giving Pitt fans any future hope. But the prospects of being able to play in the NBA were too much to pass up.

Champagnie’s 14.7 points per game average is tied for the second-best at Pitt through a sophomore season, minimum 40 games played. He became the first Panther to average a double-double for the season since Schenley High School graduate DeJuan Blair in 2008-09, and the first player to average better than 18 points and 10 rebounds per game since Billy Knight in 1973-74.

Champagnie, who was raised in Brooklyn, New York, will turn 20 on June 29. The NBA Draft is set for July 29.

JUSTIN CHAMPAGNIE (Photo Courtesy Pitt Athletics)

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