Gophers’ Cam Christie to explore NBA while keeping college eligibility

Gophers men’s basketball player Cam Christie said Friday he is going to enter NBA draft process while still maintaining his college eligibility and a possible return to the U for next season.

“It has always been a dream of mine to make it to the NBA,” Christie wrote on social media. “Today, I am honored to share that I am entering the 2024 NBA draft process. I am grateful for this opportunity and am eager to receive feedback from the NBA on my game. I want to express my gratitude to my family, teammates, coach (Ben) Johnson and his entire staff, and all the incredible Gopher fans for their support throughout the past basketball season.”

Christie, who was named to the Big Ten all-freshman team, left the door open to return for his sophomore season at Minnesota in 2024-25.

“As I go through the process, I will maintain my college eligibility,” he wrote. “I am ready for the new challenges ahead, and I appreciate everyone’s continued support.”

Christie’s decision comes with the support of Johnson, who posted on social media: “Keep pushing @24CameronC.”

The U said Christie has submitted paperwork for early entry into the draft. Christie can enter the draft process because he is at least 19 years old in the calendar year in which the draft is being held and at least one NBA season has elapsed since the player graduated (or should have graduated) from high school. College undergraduates such as Christie can declare for the draft and hire an agent without forfeiting their remaining eligibility as long as they are evaluated by the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, per NCAA rules.

Christie drew praise as a potential NBA player from TV commentators during the season, including former Timberwolves forward Robbie Hummel on Big Ten Network. But Christie’s name was not mentioned in four mock drafts the Pioneer Press consulted on Friday, including The Ringer, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated and Yahoo.

The Athletic, however, has Christie as a late first-round pick, according to Sam Vecenie in mid-March:

“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,” he wrote.

“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.”

Christie averaged 11.3 points per game, including 39 percent 3-point shooting, across 33 games last season. The Arlington Heights, Ill., native worked his way into the starting lineup in mid-December and stayed through the National Invitation Tournament into mid-March.

Christie had some big games, including a season-high 23 points at Illinois in late February, but also had freshman moments, including being held scoreless at Northwestern in the regular-season finale in March.

Christe’s older brother, Max, left Michigan State after one season and was drafted in the second round (35th overall) by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2022. Now in his second season in the NBA, the 21-year-old guard is averaging 4.3 points and 14.3 minutes across 66 games this season.

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