Justin Champagnie might not have heard his name called during the 2021 NBA Draft, but that doesn’t mean he didn't make a strong impression on many teams in the weeks leading up to it.
According to the former University of Pittsburgh forward, he had as many as 16 suitors interested in signing him as an undrafted free agent. But when it came time to pick 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 workout with [the Raptors], that I wanted to play in Toronto,” Champagnie told the media on Wednesday. “Of course, I had heard about their reputation of developing players, but just the vibe alone kinda caught me.”
Toronto promptly signed Champagnie to a two-way contract on July 30 following the draft.
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 from the field. He also put up an impressive 98.1 defensive rating per 100 possessions, standing out as a two-way force.
Champagnie appeared on the Raptors’ Las Vegas Summer League squad 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, playing over 17 minutes per contest.
While he may appear way more often with the Raptors 905 in the G League this season, Toronto hopes to develop the potential it sees in the 20-year-old. It seems like the two parties have been on the same page since they met.
“As soon as the draft ended, and I got the option, I just knew who I was going to pick already,” Champagnie said. “It was a no-brainer.”
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