Budding Gophers Star Cam Christie Will Test NBA Draft Waters, but Retain College Eligibility

minnesota gophers, cam christie
Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball true Freshman Cam Christie was probably the 2nd most important part of a bounceback season that his head coach Ben Johnson desperately needed, in order to keep his job for another year.

On Friday, Christie announced that he will be entering the next step of the NBA Draft process, while retaining his college eligibility, for now. Cam’s social media post made official what Gopher basketball insiders had already reported.

As an 18-year-old freshman in a new state (from Illinois), Cam Christie was a difference make from the moment he first took to the Barn’s raised hardwood. After his first 33 collegiate games, the 6’6″ Arlington Heights kid averaged 11.3 points (2nd most on team), 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 points per game, not to mention his plus-abilities and length as a perimeter defender.

True Minnesota Gophers Freshman, Cam Christie

It wasn’t just what he stuffed into the boxscore, though. There are things that Christie does on a regular basis, that other division 1 basketball players don’t do. His ability to get his shot from anywhere on the floor, whether on the catch or off the dribble, is the first thing that opened my eyes to what Cam’s potential. The quickness, confidence and smooth-factor is the type of thing that makes you want to fall in love with basketball all over again.

Nonetheless, there’s nobody who has coached Cam Christie that would go out on a limb to say he’s ready for the National Basketball Association, today. For those of us who watched his inconsistent play for an entire Minnesota Gophers regular and NIT postseason, your eyes have told you the same story as a deeper look at his numbers.

Related: Ben Johnson on Hot Seat? Mark Coyle Angry Gophers Missed NCAA Tournament Again

Cam shot just 40% from the field, as a freshman; and while his 11.2 points per game was 2nd on the team, it’s not a requisite number for a kid playing at Minnesota (which hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament in five years), who wants to be a reliable contributor at the next level. That’s before you get into his underwhelming assist and rebound numbers.

Why would an NBA team draft Cam Christie if he isn’t ready?

Without a doubt, Christie’s long-term future could use another year or two with the Gophers. Not just in college basketball, but in a place he’s already comfortable and on a team where he knows his role. But, money talks and there are mock drafts out there that project Christie as a 2024 1st round pick.

They see him as a high-ceiling lottery talent that a forward-thinking front office can draft in the back-half of this year’s first round, if they’re willing spend that type of capital on someone they’d have to stash in the G-League, then hope he continues to develop there, like he did in Dinkytown.

Related: Local Big Man Andrew Morgan Chooses Nebraska Over Gophers for Rumored $200K

Being a 1st round pick would guarantee Cam at least $4 million guaranteed over the next two years. In case you were wondering, that’s far more than he would get from any NIL collective, especially if he returns to Minnesota.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: