Justin Champagnie may not have heard his name during the 2021 NBA draft, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t make a strong impression on many teams in the weeks before that.
According to the former University of Pittsburgh striker, he had up to 16 applicants interested in signing him as an undrafted free agent. But when it came time to choose between them, he only had one team on his mind.
“I didn’t want to play anywhere else. I told my agent right away, right after my training with [the Raptors]that I wanted to play in Toronto, ”Champagnie told the media on Wednesday. “Of course I had heard of their reputation for developing players, but the mood alone somehow caught me.”
Toronto immediately signed a two-way contract with Champagnie on July 30th after the draft.
Justin Champagnie only had eyes for the Toronto Raptors. (Steve Russell / Toronto Star via Getty Images)
In 20 games with Pittsburgh last season, the 6-foot-6 forward averaged 18 points and 11.1 rebounds per game while shooting 47.7 percent off the field. He also put up an impressive defensive rating of 98.1 per 100 possessions and stood out as a two-way force.
Champagnie appeared on the Raptors’ roster in the Las Vegas Summer League in August, where he helped the team to a 4-1 record. In five games he averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and played over 17 minutes per competition.
While he may be making much more appearances with the Raptors 905 in the G League this season, Toronto is hoping to unlock the 20-year-old’s potential. It seems like the two parties have been on the same page since meeting.
“As soon as the draft ended and I got the option, I already knew who to choose,” said Champagnie. “It was a breeze.”
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