Cam Christie Doesn’t Appear Interested in Transfer Portal but NBA Draft is a Real Threat to Gophers

cam christie minnesota gophers ben johnson
Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team will play in the first round of the NIT Tournament vs the Butler Bulldogs on Tuesday night in the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. Both teams are 18-14 on the season and Butler is a -4.5 point favorite at home, which means this is expected to be a tight one.

In fact, it’s very possible a victory tonight hinges on the type of game played by Gophers’ true freshman, Cam Christie, who’s risen as one of the best players on the team and undoubtedly the most talented. When you’ve watched enough basketball, you can just tell when somebody is different. That’s Cam, at least at the college level.

Even as a true freshman, Christie moves with a silkiness that you don’t see every day, at that level. But if you really want to see smooth, check out his jump shot, especially off the dribble. So effortless and on the money. It’s an NBA jump shot. That’s really the best way to explain it.

And that has some, myself included, concerned over the possibility of Christie finding a big time NIL offer in the transfer portal this offseason, like Jamison Battle did last year, and using it as a ticket out of Dinkytown. But it sounds like that won’t be an issue. In fact, recent steam suggests that Ben Johnson and the Gophers don’t have to worry about fellow collegiate teams nearly as much as they do NBA.

Minnesota Gophers true freshman Cam Christie may be an NBA flight risk

According to Darren “Doogie” Wolfson (SKOR North, KSTP), among others, the expectation is for Christie to test out the NBA Draft process this offseason, something that does not force him to enter the draft, but will give him an idea of where he might be slotted, should he decide to follow through, after going through the initial steps.

Related: Four Minnesota Gophers MBB Players Receive 2023-24 Big Ten Honors

Doogie is hearing that, once Cam starts down the draft path, he’s likely to find a lot more suitors than some might expect for the true Freshman Gopher. That there’s a lot of second round chatter right now surrounding Christie, even some later first round noise.

“The biggest fear on Cam Christie is him — like he’s going to test… my understanding is he’s going to test the NBA draft waters. Is it possible, at all, that some team makes him some sort of guarantee second round pick or a two-way contract guarantee? Something like that, where he would say, ‘you know what, that’s worth me leaving’, compared to coming back to the U?

I still think Cam Christie, you know, his ceiling is so darn high that like I’m not ruling out first round maybe late first but first round pick in a year or two but can the Gopher sell cam Christie on coming back versus if some NBA team gives him a promise that’s what I would keep an eye on I’m not necessarily keeping an eye on cam Christie entering the portal then ultimately transferring.”

Darren Wolfson – Mackey & Judd Show (SKOR North)

Christie is averaging 11.3 points, 2.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and only 1.2 turnovers, playing almost 30 minutes per night, hitting 40.3% from deep, something the NBA scouts really like. Now, these numbers may not raise eyebrows to the casual NBA fan.

But teams targeting Cam aren’t banking on what he will be able to do for them in the immediate future. They see Christie as a future lottery pick with more seasoning. Someone that that, if a team can convince him to enter the draft a year or two earlier than what his development says he should, could get in the 2nd round.

Related: Tom Izzo: Gophers Could be Team to Beat in Big Ten if Ben Johnson Keeps Them Together

Christie lands in 1st round of The Athletic NBA mock draft

But Wolfson isn’t the only one buzzing over Cam Christie’s surging draft stock. On Tuesday, draft expert and insider, Sam Vecenie (The Athletic), released his early NBA mock draft and guess who he has being picked by the Utah Jazz with the No. 28 overall pick? You guessed it. The Arlington Heights, IL native, Cam Christie, whose older brother Max plays for the Lakers.

28. Utah Jazz (via Thunder)

Cam Christie | 6-6 wing | 18 years old | Minnesota

The brother of Lakers’ wing Max Christie, Cam’s style of play is similar, but he has showcased the capacity to do more with the ball in his hands than Max did at this stage.

Scouts are excited about his potential to be a 3-and-D player with even more ball skills than normal, though it will take Christie time to reach that level.

If Christie stays in this class, he will likely be someone who will need at least a year in the G League to get his body up to speed. But in a down draft year, scouts are enthusiastic about sorting through players like him to see if any could turn into something long-term. 

Sam Vecenie – The Athletic

The Minnesota Gophers have only had one men’s basketball player selected in the NBA Draft — Daniel Oturu: No. 33 overall (2020) — since Kris Humphries was taken No. 14 overall in 2004.

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