We all know the famous scene from the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy clicks her ruby red magic slippers together and repeats three times, “There’s no place like home.”
For Julian Champagnie, there really is no place like home. The Bishop Loughlin H.S., Fort Greene, standout senior basketball player has decided to continue his hoops career at St. John’s University, Jamaica.
He had multiple offers from schools around the country, but staying home was the way to go for the
6-foot, 7-inch small forward. “St. John’s has felt like home to me,” he said. “I grew up there. When I was younger, I went to camp there, and my aunt worked there. It felt like home, so that’s where I wanted
Champagnie’s father, Ranford, played three years of soccer at St. John’s in the mid-1990s. He scored four goals and dished out eight assists during the memorable campaign of 1996, a season that saw St. John’s win its first-ever NCAA championship in soccer.
“St. John’s was a better fit for Julian,” said Ranford, who is now Bishop Loughlin’s boys’ head varsity soccer coach. “He’s staying home. He’ll be right in Queens. Growing up, he loved St. John’s.”
Born in Kensington, Champagnie played Catholic Youth Organization basketball at Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dyker Heights, along with his twin brother, Justin.
The dynamic duo arrived at Bishop Loughlin in the fall of 2015. The Champagnies played three years of competitive varsity basketball for the Lions.
As a junior, Julian averaged 15 points per game and was named to the CHSAA ‘AA’ All-League Third Team. This past season as a senior, he poured in 17.2 points per game en route to being selected to the All-League First Team. He was also a Tablet All-Star both seasons.
Thankful for Coach Champagnie said he’s extremely grateful to the coaching staff at Bishop Loughlin, led by head varsity coach Ed Gonzalez, for preparing him to play Division I college hoops in the Big East conference.
“They really did their job,” Champagnie said. “Whether it was in practice or just walking through the hallway, they were preparing us for the next level. I give them a lot of credit for helping me become who I am today, especially on the basketball court.”
“He’s (Julian) going to get bigger and stronger, and once he does that, the sky’s the limit for that young man,” Gonzalez said. “I’m very proud of him. He’s worked hard enough to get there, and he’s going to continue to work hard. When he’s there, he’s going to get himself into a position to go to whatever level he wants to go to.”
New St. John’s head coach, Mike Anderson, the 21st coach in program history, is eager to see what his first commit from New York City can do to help the team win.
“Julian is the perfect player for the type of basketball we’re looking to play at St. John’s,” Anderson said in a statement. “He’s a great athlete whose versatility and high basketball IQ will serve us well on both sides of the ball for years to come. I’m very excited to welcome Julian to the St. John’s basketball family.”
A Tough Decision
As excited as he is to get started at St. John’s, Champagnie was faced with a difficult decision when choosing where to play his college hoops. In March, Justin signed on to play at the University of Pittsburgh, and the school also extended an offer to Julian.
For as long as he could remember, he had played ball alongside his twin brother.
Though the prospect of continuing that partnership was appealing, Champagnie knew St. John’s would be the best fit for him.
“It was very, very tough,” he said. “It took a toll for a couple of days. I was out of it.” The decision just goes to
show how much it will mean for Champagnie to suit up for the Johnnies. Even with the offer to continue playing with his twin on the table, the appeal of bringing top-notch college basketball back to the Big Apple was too good to pass up.
The Red Storm are coming off their best season in recent memory. In Chris Mullin’s final campaign as head coach, St. John’s reached the NCAA Tournament but fell in the play-in game to Arizona State. Champagnie is eager to join the returning players to make a Tournament run again.
“We have a lot of talent,” he said. “I figured if I stayed home, more players would want to stay home. We want to put St. John’s basketball back on the map.” Not too long ago, another Bishop Loughlin standout played a key role in some competitive days of St. John’s basketball: Mark Jackson. Jackson went on to play parts of 17 seasons in the NBA.
One Day at a Time
Champagnie will take it one day at a time as he begins to establish himself as a college player. Following in the footsteps of Jackson, though, would surely be an ideal path for the Lions star.
While he’s in store for a number of challenges that any college student-athlete faces in his new surroundings, all he has to do is tap his sneakers together three times and remember, “There’s no place like home.”
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.