Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Pitt-St. John’s at MSG won’t mean as much without both Champagnie brothers
By ADAM ZAGORIA
Pittsburgh and St. John’s will meet at Madison Square Garden as part of a college basketball doubleheader on Dec. 18, but the game won’t have as much sex appeal without both Champagnie twins going head-to-head.
Pitt star Justin Champagnieannounced this week that he will enter the NBA Draft and hire an NCAA-certified agent. He is ranked the No. 66 “Best Available” prospect per ESPN.com.
St. John’s star Julian Champagnie, the leading scorer in the Big East last season, is testing the draft waters but is expected to return to campus next season, a source close to the situation said.
Without both twins, this will be a matchup between two former Big East rivals but will be lacking in box office appeal.
The other half of the doubleheader features Iona coach Rick Pitino facing his former assistant, Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard for the second time in two seasons.
Last year, Seton Hall rolled Iona, 86-64, at Prudential Center while both teams were coming out of COVID-related pauses.
Still, it was the Gaels who went on to the NCAA Tournament after winning the MAAC Tournament, making Pitino the third coach to lead five programs to the Big Dance. Seton Hall came up short after collapsing down the stretch.
Both teams should be good in 2021-22. Seton Hall lost Sandro Mamukelashvili to the NBA Draft, but returns Jared Rhoden, Myles Cale, Ike Obiagu and Tyrese Samuel while adding transfers Kadary Richmond (Syracuse), Jamir Harris (American) and Alexis Yetna (USF).
Iona lost Asante Gist and Isaiah Ross but added two transfer guards from the American Athletic Conference in Tyson Jolly (SMU) and Elijah Joiner (Tulsa).
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.