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James Bouknight named to Naismith Award preseason Watch List

UConn’s star guard named to list of the nation’s 50 best players heading into the 2020-21 campaign.

UConn men’s basketball’s James Bouknight during a game against NJIT last season. Bouknight was named to the Naismith Award Watch List, given to the best player in college basketball each year.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

After a breakout freshman season, sophomore James Bouknight was one of 50 players named to the 2021 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Watch List. The Naismith Trophy is given out to the best college basketball player each season.

There were five players in the Big East named to the watch list, including Bouknight. Villanova had the most of any other Big East school with Collin Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Creighton’s Marcus Zegarowski and Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili also made the watchlist.

“The beginning of the season is filled with excitement, optimism and anticipation as each team and every player is undefeated, making the race for the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy wide open,” Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “While these 50 candidates are those to keep an eye on, there will be plenty of others who will enter the competition throughout the season.”

Bouknight was the No. 66 ranked recruit coming out of the 2019 class and played well enough to earn himself a spot on the American All-Conference Third Team and a unanimous selection to the All-Freshman team. He was also a pre-season All-Big East Second Team pick this season as well.

He averaged 13 points, 4.1 rebounds and a little over one assist per game. He scored in double digits in 19 out of his 28 games played, including a 12-game stretch of double-digit efforts late in the season where he averaged 17.9 points per game.

The Brooklyn native started his season off last year by missing the first three games due to a suspension, but once he began playing he impressed on the bench enough to earn a starting role for the second half. Once he joined the starting five, he scored 15 or more in 12 out of his last 16 games.

Bouknight was also named to the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award Watch List for this upcoming season.