Max Christie: MSU Star, NBA Prospect Has Dream Homecoming at NU

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For Michigan State shooting guard Max Christie, Northwestern is basically his second program. The Arlington Heights native and five-star recruit grew up very close by, and his mother, Katrina Hannaford Christie, is one of the top players in Northwestern women’s basketball history.

“This is practically my second college if I had to pick one,” Christie said after his Spartans won 73-67 in Evanston today. “I grew up here, I was the ball boy here. I’ve been around this program for a very long time, almost longer than Michigan State if I’m being honest.”

“The college that I grew up in, I’ve been here, growing up all my life,” the No. 12 in the ESPN Top-100 and the No. 3-ranked shooting guard in the nation said after scoring 11 points and collecting 7 rebounds, on 3-8 shooting, 2-4 from 3 in 34 minutes of action.

“Coming in here to this game I knew a lot of people on the other team, I knew the whole coaching staff of the other team, so I was really pumped up for it.”

The long and lean 6-6 freshman has high NBA prospects, and the potential for a great future in the league. He has the ability to play multiple positions, and has often drawn comparisons to Jeremy Lamb and Rip Hamilton, among others.

Ranked No. 17 in the 247sports composite, Christie was the bluest of the blue chip recruits that Tom Izzo brought to East Lansing this year. He’s also a very strong NBA Draft prospect, as the four following mock drafts project him thusly:

NBA Draft Room #15 overall Tankathon #32 overall My NBA Draft #19 overall NBA Draft.net #9 overall

Christie said he had about 20-30 friends and family on hand at Welsh-Ryan Arena for today’s game, including some of his former teachers at Rolling Meadows High School, where his favorite class was AP History.

That’s the same high school that produced San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garappolo.

jimmy-garoppolo

At Saturday’s shootaround, ahead of today’s game, Izzo called up the potential end of game play, the one geared towards having your go-to guy take/make the game winner in crunch time. Izzo set it up for team captain Gabe Brown, who would go on to lead Sunday’s game with 20 points.

“‘No coach, we’re in Max’s house,” Izzo said of Brown’s rebutting his decision.

“This is a big deal, he was a ball boy here. We’re running it for Max.’”

“I looked at Gabe, who never passed up a shot since he was one day old, he was shooting out of the womb, to be honest with you, and I just said to myself, ‘That makes coaching cool, that’s what makes it neat.

He was thinking of (Christie) and I ran a bad play, it didn’t work but just the thought of it says something about these players, this team and what they think of Max Christie.”

tom izzo

Balling is in Christie’s blood. His father played at Wisconsin-Superior, while his mother shared the Big Ten field goal percentage lead for the 1995-96 season. She finished her career with the second highest FG% in NU history.

“Katrina bleeds purple, she was a great player here,” said Northwestern coach Chris Collins, who recruited Christie hard.

“We obviously would have loved to have had him in purple, but you can’t fault him for the choice he made, to go play for coach Izzo, and he’s doing great, and I’m happy for him.”

Collins, whose son is the same age as Christie, said it was probably a little weird for him today, to come back to NU, but now as a member of the opposition.

“I love Max’s parents,” Collins continued.

“I cheer for him, not today…he’s a great player, but he’s an even better kid, and that’s what you want, cuz I know how he feels about us, I know the way the family feels, and I love his family. I have seen Max play since the 6th grade.

Michigan State came out of the locker room, and took to the court shouting “let the dawgs out, we’re fucking soldiers!”

While they did fall behind by as many as 13 in the first half, the Spartans totally dominated the second half, and thus came away with a big conference road win.

“That was the main goal for today to get his win for Max and Malik,” Brown said.

“They did a good job, they brought energy they were excited. Max is hometown hero over here so we wanted to go out and just have him go out with a bang.”

“You saw that dunk?” Brown said about Christie’s one-handed throw down in the closing minutes of the game.

Said Northwestern forward Pete Nance of the challenges of defending Max Christie:

“He’s a really good young player, he can really shoot, put it on the floor, that was an emphasis of ours- we just did everything we could to try and stop him, but we gotta live with it.”

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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