While it may be James Bouknight’s first season in the Big East, the conference’s coaches have high expectations for UConn’s budding star. The Brooklyn native was named to the All-Big East Second Team, joining Mitch Ballock, Justin Moore, Bryce Nze, Paul Scruggs and Nate Watson.
After missing the Huskies’ first three games of the 2019-20 season due to a suspension, Bouknight quickly established himself as the most talented scorer on head coach Dan Hurley’s roster. The 6-foot-4 guard used his high offensive basketball IQ and athletic ability to keep the Huskies in games all season, even as starters Akok Akok and Tyler Polley went down with season-ending injuries.
Bouknight finished his freshman year averaging 13 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting just under 35 percent from the 3-point line, and was named to the American Athletic Conference’s All-Conference Third Team and All-Freshman Team.
Prior to college basketball’s shutdown due to COVID-19, Bouknight was gaining national prominence as one of the top freshmen in the country and finished the year averaging 15.8 points per game in his last five games. He garnered some NBA Draft buzz in the offseason, but decided to return to Storrs to lead a loaded squad filled with fellow playmakers like R.J. Cole, Jalen Gaffney, and stud freshman Andre Jackson.
While Bouknight still has his flaws, especially on the defensive end, he’s becoming more and more common on 2021 NBA mock drafts. As of now, he is consistently listed as a second round pick, but a few sites have him as a mid-to-late first rounder. With a strong sophomore season against high-quality Big East competition, Bouknight could easily play his way into the first round — and potentially a lottery pick — by the time this season comes to an end.
The preseason Big East individual accolades can be found here:
Preseason Big East Player of the Year:
Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton Bluejays
Preseason Big East Freshman of the Year
Dawson Garcia, Marquette Golden Eagles
Preseason First Team All-Big East
David Duke, Providence Friars
Collin Gillespie, Villanova Wildcats
Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall Pirates*
Charlie Moore, DePaul Blue Devils*
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova Wildcats
Preseason Second Team All-Big East^
Mitch Ballock, Creighton Bluejays
James Bouknight, UConn Huskies
Justin Moore, Villanova Wildcats
Bryce Nze, Butler Bulldogs
Paul Scruggs, Xavier Musketeers
Nate Watson, Providence Friars
Preseason Honorable Mention All-Big East
D.J. Carton, Marquette Golden Eagles
Bryce Aiken, Seton Hall Pirates
^Tie in the voting allowed for an additional honoree