East Lansing, Mich. – It only took a few practices with Michigan State basketball for Max Christie to realize the competition is stronger and faster than high school. It came as no surprise to the former five-star recruit, but like most freshmen, Christie has plenty to learn.
At one time, the No. 1 shooting guard in the 2021 recruiting class according to 247Sports, Christie is well ahead of his peers when putting the ball in the hoop. A 6-foot-6 guard who can shoot from anywhere, he's primed to become the next great shooting guard at MSU.
However, he'll need to defend at the next level and add some bulk to withstand the Big Ten's physical conference play. Christie's goal is to be 200-pounds by November and is currently checking in at 190. It's all part of making the jump to college, though; he's ready for the challenge as he approaches this fall alongside fellow freshmen Jaden Akins and Pierre Brooks.
"The strength and the speed of the game, it's different at every single level, and that's the biggest transition for every basketball player, in my opinion," Christie told reporters in a videoconference. "When you go from level to level, the speed of the game, especially here with how fast we play, it's definitely certainly different from a high school game. Then just the strength of all the players that I'll be going against, my teammates, and all that sort of stuff."
While he transitions, Christie is leaning on Spartan veterans like Gabe Brown for advice on handling college life, but he's happy to be surrounded by other newcomers.
"It's really nice to have two other freshmen that are in the same shoes as me, in terms of it's our first time in college," said Christie. "We don't know really what to expect, so when we walk through everything together, it's really good to just experience everything together for the first time ... we obviously have our upperclassmen, our seniors, and our sophomores and juniors, who can really help us out with anything.
"But we really rely on each other to make sure that we're going through everything together; we're experiencing everything for the first time together."
Yet, the arrival of Christie, Brooks, and Akins brings the pressure and expectations that come with a top-10 recruiting class in the nation.
The Spartans will count on Christie to make an immediate impact as MSU attempts to rebound from a down year where Michigan State finished 15-13, doing just enough to earn another NCAA Tournament bid, and were subsequently bounced from the First Four courtesy of UCLA.
Christie is ready to face those expectations head-on, but he's also learning how to navigate them.
"I definitely think that there are some expectations for me. Everybody wants me to be this certain type of player or produce this amount of numbers. But going into it for the first time, it's just being able to make everything a learning experience," Christie said. "There's got to be some sort of pressure on me that everybody wants me to do this and that, but I'm just going in with the mindset that I've worked hard my entire life for this moment, and the work will take care of itself ... Just make sure that sometimes we can take a little bit of that pressure off of our backs and just to have fun.
"We're in college. I'm 18 years old, and I have no reason to really be stressed about what other people think about me and how I really play basketball."
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