Rolling Meadows' Christie prepared to soar to new heights on court

The thought of being a pilot someday has definitely occurred to 16-year-old Max Christie.

There is a love of flying, after all, in his family, starting with dad, Max Sr., who is a pilot for Delta Air Lines.

“My dad got to see the cockpit of a plane once when he was little and he fell in love with it and always wanted to be a pilot,” the younger Max Christie said. “I love flying, too. But I think I'd rather just ride around (as a passenger).”

Christie certainly got well acquainted with the jet-setting lifestyle this past summer.

One of the most talented and highly recruited high school basketball players in the nation, Christie, a 6-foot-6 junior point guard at Rolling Meadows, traveled the country and even outside of its borders as he played the game he loves against some of the top talent in the world.

“It is crazy the opportunities that basketball have given me,” Christie said. “I really try to be grateful of everything I get to do and all the places I get to go because of basketball.”

Now, after AAU trips to places such as Las Vegas and Atlanta, a stop in California for an invitation-only camp with NBA star Steph Curry, a tryout for USA Basketball in Florida and a trip to the U16 FIBA Americas tournament in Brazil as part of Team USA, Christie is primed to help Rolling Meadows reach a whole new altitude of its own this winter.

Christie, who was one of the leading scorers in the Northwest suburbs last year, averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Mustangs as a sophomore, is back bigger and stronger, and with (Junior) Olympic experience under his belt. After missing a chunk of time last year with a thigh injury, he is excited to be healthy and get going on a new season, which officially begins on Monday for all boys basketball teams across the state of Illinois.

Rolling Meadows opens at 6 p.m. Monday against Montini at Fenton.

“I think we are looking really good,” Christie said of the Mustangs. “We are young. We have three freshmen on the team. But they have transitioned well. I'm excited to play with them.”

One of the freshmen is Christie's younger brother Cameron, a guard who will likely share point guard duties with Max.

“He shoots well, he passes well and he's probably more of a point guard than me. He's the true point guard of the family,” Christie said of Cameron. “I'm excited to play with him. Not a lot of people get the opportunity to play with their brother.”

The Christie brothers, who are best friends, have already trained together for years.

Basketball has always been a family affair for the Christies.

Long before dad Max Sr. became a pilot, he was a basketball standout for Loyola Academy and then Division III Wisconsin-Superior.

Meanwhile, mom Katrina (nee Hannaford) once scored 55 points in a high school game for Eau Claire (Wis.) Memorial and then became a 1,000-point scorer at Northwestern. She is now a psychologist.

“My mom has been one of the biggest influences in my life,” Christie said. “She helps me with so much stuff off the court, like my studies and managing stress.

“My dad is kind of the basketball guru and he takes me and my brother to shoot and to work out. We do a lot together (as a family) with basketball.”

Christie works with his dad and brother on defense, on ballhandling, on shooting, on all the fundamentals. They also lift weights together.

“Basketball players are made when no one is watching,” Christie said. “A lot of people misunderstand what goes into it to get to a certain level. A lot of people think I've had things just handed to me, or that things come easy. But if people could see the work I put in when no one's watching, they wouldn't think that. It's a lot of work.”

All the work has led to all kinds of major Division I offers, from Big Ten schools such as Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Northwestern to national heavyweight Duke. And of course, the USA Basketball machine has taken notice of Christie as well.

“It was such a great experience to be a part of that USA team that went to Brazil,” Christie said. “To be able to say I am a gold medalist at age 16 is ridiculous. I learned a lot from that.”

At the Steph Curry camp, Christie learned new shooting and training techniques, he learned fitness, lifestyle and nutrition tips, straight from the mouth of Curry himself.

“I learned the importance of sleep. I'm eating less sugar and junk food. I learned that every shot is a new shot, to just move on from the bad ones, because we all have them, even Steph Curry,” Christie said. “It was a great summer.”

But for Christie, it was just the beginning.

He still has so much more he wants to do with basketball, even before he graduates from high school.

He still wants to win a state championship at Rolling Meadows, become the best player in the state of Illinois, and win more gold medals.

“I still have a lot more to do,” said Christie, who is also very serious about his grades and currently has a 4.0 grade-point average. “The goals, they're pretty high. But it's all things I feel like I can do.”

So, fasten your seat belts, put up your tray tables and enjoy the ride, basketball fans. Max Christie is taking off.

  Rolling Meadows basketball player Max Christie has offers to play for Division I schools including Duke and Villanova. Joe Lewnard/
  Rolling Meadows basketball player Max Christie has offers to play for Division I schools including Duke and Villanova. Joe Lewnard/
  Rolling Meadows basketball player Max Christie, left, has offers to play for Division I schools including Duke and Villanova. Joe Lewnard/
  Rolling Meadows basketball player Max Christie has offers to play for Division I schools including Duke and Villanova. Joe Lewnard/
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