Michigan State the choice for Rolling Meadows' Christie
At times during his recruiting process, Rolling Meadows basketball star Max Christie lamented the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of college campuses across the country took away his ability to make his full NCAA allotment of five official campus visits.
He made only one, and that was pre-pandemic.
But in the end, Christie, a versatile 6-foot-6 point guard who is a 5-star recruit and is widely considered the top rising senior in the state of Illinois, realized that one campus visit was the only visit he actually needed.
"When I went to Michigan State in January, it felt like home," Christie said.
At noon on Tuesday, Christie ended months of speculation as to what college program he would choose when he announced via Twitter that he would be attending Michigan State to play for longtime head coach Tom Izzo.
He said he made the decision two weeks ago but wanted to sit with it for just a bit before announcing it publicly.
"The relationships right away with the staff and the players there were amazing," Christie said of Michigan State. "I spent a lot of time there and one thing that really stood out to me was that Coach Izzo told me that I was someone they not only really wanted but someone they really needed to take the program to the next level. I really took that to heart."
Christie, who averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds per game last season before being named the Mid-Suburban East co-player of the year as well as the captain of the Daily Herald's Northwest suburbs All-Area team, also took seriously the obligation he had to be straight up with the coaches from the other schools who were among his nine finalists. He made personal phone calls on Tuesday morning to the head coaches at Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue, Villanova, Virginia, Northwestern and Duke.
"I called all eight of them," Christie said. "That was really, really tough. It's tough to tell some really great programs that you're going to take a different route, but that had to be done.
"I would have liked to have taken some more official visits, but unfortunately, that wasn't able to happen. I was pretty sure when I first visited Michigan State that I wanted to go there anyway. I just didn't want to jump the gun, which is why I thought I should take some other visits. But when that didn't work out, it was OK because I knew (Michigan State) was right for me."
Christie, who says he will likely major in business, likes Izzo's all-business approach to basketball. He thinks Izzo will squeeze every ounce of potential out of him.
"I like his style," Christie said. "I really like how demanding he is. He pushes you and challenges you and I like that. I'm on an AAU team right now with the Illinois Wolves that is like that and I like it. I think I thrive in that type of environment, being pushed all the time to get better."
Interestingly, Christie could one day be pushed at Michigan State by a familiar face. His younger brother Cameron Christie, a freshman who averaged 11 points and 4 assists per game for Rolling Meadows last season, also has an offer on the table from Michigan State, among other Big Ten schools.
But the older Christie says that didn't weigh into his decision.
"Cam will make his own decision when his time comes. I just wanted to make the best decision for me," Max Christie said. "But, it definitely would be great if he went there, too."
Christie is still in a holding pattern with his summer competition plans. He says that he is working out on his own until his AAU team resumes tournaments, which he says will likely be in August.
In the meantime, he's glad the edge is off a bit.
"It definitely feels good to have this decision made," Christie said. "It's one of the hardest decisions of my life. But I really did enjoy the process, and I learned a lot from all the coaches I dealt with. That is something I am definitely always going to cherish."