STORRS, Conn. – UConn sophomore guard James Bouknight, the Huskies’ leading scorer in the 2020-21 season, announced Wednesday his intention to declare himself eligible for the 2021 NBA Draft, and forgo his final two years of college eligibility.
Bouknight (Brooklyn, N.Y.), considered by most draft experts to be a lottery selection, plans to hire an agent, which would negate the possibility of changing his mind. The NBA Draft is scheduled to be held on July 29.
“When Coach (Dan) Hurley first recruited me, he told me he had a vision and that was winning games and bringing UConn back to its identity,” Bouknight said. “Over the past two years, I think we were able to do that. Now that I’m in the position I am, it’s an opportunity you just can’t pass up. I definitely feel like I’m ready for the NBA.”
The 6-5 guard played 15 games for the Huskies this year, missing eight because of an elbow injury, and averaged 18.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. He scored in double-figures in 14 of the 15 games and had seven 20-plus point games, including a 40-point outburst against Creighton on Dec. 20, the highest-scoring game in the BIG EAST Conference this season.
He led the Huskies to a 15-8 overall record, a third-place finish in the BIG EAST, and to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in five years.
“Playing in the NCAA Tournament was always a dream of mine and I was able to accomplish that because of my teammates,” he said.
Bouknight was an All-BIG EAST First Team selection, the USBWA District 1 Player of the Year, a NABC District 5 Second Team pick, and a finalist for the Lute Olson Award. He was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll five times.
“James has done so much for UConn basketball,” Hurley said. ”His decision to come here changed the landscape from where this was a few years ago.”
In his two-year, 43-game UConn career, Bouknight scored 645 points (15.0 ppg) and grabbed 200 rebounds.
“I feel that coming to UConn was the best decision I could have made,” Bouknight said. “I made lifelong relationships with my teammates, those who I can call my brothers. I was able to grow as a player on the court and build my character off the court. UConn has been nothing but good to me. I can’t thank Coach Hurley and the assistant coaches and the whole UConn community enough. UConn will always be a second home.”