The St. John’s men’s basketball team saw two of its student-athletes earn recognition from the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association on Tuesday morning, as Julian Champagnie was named the All-Met Rookie of the Year and LJ Figueroa found a place on the All-Met Third Team.
Champagnie becomes the 13th player in St. John’s history and the first since Shamorie Ponds in 2017 to be named the area’s top rookie. A member of the BIG EAST All-Freshman team, Champagnie averaged 9.9 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, the latter of which led the team and ranked seventh overall in the BIG EAST. He registered four double-doubles, good enough for tops on the team and the highest total by a St. John’s freshman since fellow All-Met Rookie of the Year Moe Harkless in 2011-12. Among BIG EAST freshmen, Champagnie ranked inside the top three in rebounding (2nd), scoring (3rd), steals (2nd- 1.3 per game) and blocks (3rd- 0.8 per game).
The Brooklyn native and Bishop Loughlin product finished his freshman campaign on a high note, averaging 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds over his last 10 appearances. He concluded the regular season with consecutive 20-point outings, going for a campaign-high 23 points at Butler on March 4 before posting 21 points and a season-high 12 boards in the Red Storm’s win over Marquette at Madison Square Garden on March 7. On the year, Champagnie finished in double figures 17 times in 32 appearances.
In addition to Champagnie and Ponds, the following St. John’s players have also taken home All-Met Rookie of the Year honors since the award’s inception in 1981: JaKarr Sampson (2013), Moe Harkless (2012), Marcus Hatten (2002), Erick Barkley (1999), Ron Artest (1998), Felipe Lopez (1995), Malik Sealy (1989), Michael Porter (1988), Walter Berry (1985), Mark Jackson (1984) and Chris Mullin (1982).
Figueroa earned a spot on the All-Met Third Team after leading the Red Storm and ranking 12th in the BIG EAST in scoring with 14.5 points per outing. The junior wing scored in double figures a team-high 22 times, netted 15 or more points 17 times and tallied six performances of 20 or more points. He sank 72 triples in 32 games, tied for third on the program’s single-season record list and just four shy of tying D’Angelo Harrison for the St. John’s high-water mark in that category set in 2011-12. On Jan. 25 against DePaul, Figueroa scored a career-high 28 points after sinking seven triples, which tied a St. John’s single-game record for BIG EAST play.
After ranking third in the league in steals as a sophomore in 2018-19, Figueroa continued to wreak havoc on the defensive side of the ball, pacing the BIG EAST and ranking 36th nationally with 1.94 thefts per game. The Lawrence, Mass. native tallied four or more steals six times, including a career-high seven against Seton Hall on Jan. 18 at Madison Square Garden.
Figueroa played a critical role in helping St. John’s secure a BIG EAST Tournament victory for the fourth straight season, scoring 22 points in a win over Georgetown that saw the Red Storm close the game on a 23-0 run and erase a 10-point deficit with just six and a half minutes to play.
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