NEW ORLEANS — Julian Champagnie is ready to chase his dream.
After three years at St. John’s, in which he developed from an unheralded and lightly recruited prospect into one of the best scorers in the country, the Brooklyn native has decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility and enter the 2022 NBA Draft.
“It was kind of a no-brainer,” Champagnie told The Post in an exclusive interview ahead of his announcement. “I want to chase a dream I’ve had since I was a kid.
“I think last year was my time to be nervous. I’m happy, I’m ready for it. I came back last year and I’ve done enough. It’s my time to go. It’s an opportunity I have and an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime. It’s a matter of taking your opportunity and seeing where it gets you.”
The 6-foot-8, sweet-shooting Champagnie is sticking with agent Nick Blatchford of UNLTD Sports Group, who he worked with over the past year to secure Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals, and will fly down to Miami on Sunday to begin training for the draft.
Champagnie, 20, is a projected second-round pick, according to most mock drafts. This past season, he averaged 19.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and shot 33.7 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers were down somewhat from his sophomore year, although he posted career-highs in assists (2.0), blocks (1.1) and steals (2.0) this season.
“I think he’s a guy that’s going to play 10-plus years in the NBA because of his size and skill package for what the game is today. He fits very well,” Blatchford said. “Because of the type of person he is, the habits he has, the work ethic, the character, he’s going to maximize his talent.”
Champagnie tested the NBA draft waters last year and may have stayed in the draft if not for a wrist injury that required surgery. Despite St. John’s falling short of expectations — the Johnnies were picked to finish fourth in the Big East and came in eighth — he was happy with the decision. In returning, he felt he made himself more versatile and appealing at the next level, and he was able to get feedback on the experience from his twin brother Justin, who has played this season on a two-way deal with the Raptors after a stellar two-year career at Pittsburgh.
“I’m able to get a test-run without actually being there, getting first-hand feedback from my twin on what goes on up there, how it is, life in the G League, life in the big league, going back and forth,” Champagnie said. “There’s a lot of information he’s been able to pass down to me. That’s been a pretty huge plus.
“It’s hard, that’s what he said. It’s not as easy as everybody makes it seem.”
It will be important for Champagnie to perform well in workouts and at the NBA Combine. He believes showing his motor and consistent intensity and energy are essential. Everyone knows he can shoot. His goal is to be a first-round pick, but if that doesn’t happen, it won’t change his outlook.
“I’m all in on making a career for myself. I’m going to make it happen,” Champagnie said. “All I want is a foot in the door, an opportunity to prove myself.”
Champagnie’s one regret from college is not making the NCAA Tournament in three years in Queens, particularly this past season when St. John’s was a projected tournament team entering the season. But looking back, he was happy he went to St. John’s. He was able to play in front of friends and family members and alongside close friend Posh Alexander.
“I’m definitely proud I stuck it out, that’s kind of my biggest thing,” he said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’d go back and do it again. I am proud I stuck it out and stuck with the home team.”