Get to know Josh Christopher, the former 5-star guard with a massive social media following and plenty of on-court talent.
The 2021 NBA Draft class is stockpiled with talented underclassmen looking to become the next wave of professional stars. Among them is Josh Christopher, a former 5-star recruit who has the makings of a capable off-ball NBA guard.
After a short but productive season with Arizona State, Christopher is ready to embark on his professional journey.
Check out five things you need to know about Christopher:
Who is Josh Christopher?
A native of Carson, Calif., Christopher is a 6-5, 215-pound shooting guard and former Arizona State Sun Devil. Christopher, 19, was ranked No. 10 overall in the 2020 class and named a McDonald’s All-American.
Out of Mayfair High School In Lakewood, Calif., Christopher passed former NBA veteran Josh Childress as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,755 points. He also played on the AAU team The Truth, which featured fellow college stars Jaime Jaquez (UCLA) and Jaden Shackelford (Alabama).
Christopher received several high-major offers out of high school, including Michigan, USC, Missouri and UCLA. He announced his commitment to ASU on April 13, 2020, joining Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge in Tempe.
Christopher played 15 games as a freshman, averaging 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.4 assists. Injuries ended his season prematurely, however, missing ASU’s final 10 games with leg and back ailments. His career-high performance came in the second game of the season, tallying 28 points on 11-17 shooting in a Nov. 26 loss to Villanova.
Why did he go to Arizona State?
While Christopher was a highly coveted amateur, his recruitment was anything but typical. Juwan Howard and Michigan were widely expected to land Christopher by several recruiting outlets. Instead, Christopher shocked the college basketball world by selecting Arizona State, passing James Harden as the highest-rated recruit in school history.
Laron Christopher, Josh’s father, told The Athletic that Josh’s personal brand played an important role in his decision.
“I asked every college that we’ve spoken to, ‘OK, you guys have a platform. We have a brand,'” Laron said. “A college shouldn’t be above a kid coming in and changing the direction of the school. I see that happening, wherever he chooses to play.”
Only 9 percent of 24/7Sports recruiting analysts projected Christopher would choose Arizona State. It resulted in one of the most unexpected college choices by a top-10 recruit in recent history.
Why is his nickname “JayGup”?
Christopher is as much of a social media sensation as he is a hooper. With north of 789 thousand Instagram followers, he already has one of the largest personal brands in basketball at any level.
Christopher is nicknamed “JayGup,” a monicker created during a basketball camp years ago. The younger brother of Patrick “PatFish” Christopher, an all-Pac-10 honoree and former Utah Jazz guard, Josh adopted “JayGup” as a reference to a guppy fish and a play off of his older brother’s alter ego.
Who is his brother?
Christopher is the youngest of four siblings. Caleb Christopher just completed his second season with ASU, appearing in nine games both years. He entered the transfer portal on April 26, three weeks after Josh declared for the draft.
The eldest Christopher kids, Patrick and Paris, both played college basketball in the state of California. Patrick starred for the Cal Golden Bears while Paris played for the Saint Mary’s women’s team before injuring her knee.
When will he be picked in the NBA Draft?
Christopher currently projects as a late first-round selection or early second-round selection for the NBA Draft on July 29.
Among Christopher’s positive pro traits are his muscular frame, at-rim finishing ability, athleticism and defensive awareness. One of his go-to scoring moves comes from the elbow, using a change-of-pace dribble before attacking the basket for a layup, dunk or foul call. He drew 4.3 fouls per 40 minutes (47th nationally, per KenPom) and hit 80 percent of his free throws.
Like many backcourt prospects, Christopher has work to do on efficiency and consistency on offense. His offensive rating of 1.01 points per possession was lackluster and a 30.5-percent clip from 3-point range played a significant role in his inefficiency. Christopher was 0-of-4 from deep against Rhode Island and UTEP and 0-6 vs. UCLA.
Overall, Christopher is an intriguing prospect who is capable of finding significant playing time at the next level sooner than later. If he carves out a role in the NBA, he could become an extremely marketable commodity with his already massive social media following. Keep tabs on JayGup, who will have plenty of eyes on him wherever he goes in July’s draft.
Header image courtesy of Josh Christopher’s Instagram account (jaygup).