James Bouknight: MacDuffie Scholar Improves On Offers & Introduces Division I Schools To His Game

Photo courtesy of Jon Lopez Photography.

By David Cordova

The matriculation from regular schools to prep schools is a common theme nowadays. In New York City, it’s expected that many of the top players in both the CHSAA or PSAL will leave in search for the greener pastures of prep schools in towns that are in the middle of nowhere.

The reason why these youths leave the city for these schools in suburbia is for the opportunity to increase their exposure by playing for schools that play around the country and maybe even in different countries, and also they may have access to Division I schools, which is the level that many prospective student-athletes around the nation want and are looking for.

For James Bouknight, his chances of exposure increased when he made the move that changed his life: going to prep school. The 6-foot-4 senior guard has been one of the best players in the NEPSAC and at the MacDuffie School. He has plenty of athleticism and also can impact a game on many ways on the court.

Bouknight dribbles the ball up the court during a Hoop Group event in July. (Photo courtesy of Josh Dunst)

When asked what motivates him to be successful on the hardwood, Bouknight replied, “Just to get my family out of the hood, of course, that’s how it is when you’re growing up, but I just like the game, it’s fun, but as of right now, it’s turning into like a business, but it’s fun for me at the same time.”

Bouknight hails from the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, which is a place for grittiness and also toughness, which are both qualities which he possesses. “I don’t really ball in Crown Heights, but I be around Manhattan with a whole bunch of tough kids like Cole [Anthony] and Joe [Toussaint] all the time, and I’m just having fun,” he said.

Bouknight first started out at LaSalle Academy in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which is one of the legendary basketball powerhouses in all of New York City, and has been responsible for producing players such as God Shammgod and Metta World Peace.

For two years, Bouknight started for the Cardinals’ varsity squad, and by his junior season, he started gaining plenty of recognition, as he scored 17.4 points per game for LaSalle, as he led them to the CHSAA city and state and the New York Federation state titles. As a result of his performance, he was named the CHSAA “B” Division Player of the Year and the NYSSWA’s Player of the Year.

Bouknight and Ismael Massoud. Two city players that made their way to a greener pasture named the MacDuffie School in Granby, Massachusetts. (Photo courtesy of City Outworks)

“My sophomore year, I played varsity there, but I didn’t play a lot, then my junior year was my breakout year, I led the team in scoring and led them to a city, state and Federation title. It was just fun, it was great to be a part of that team,” said Bouknight about his time at LaSalle.

But like many players in the city, Bouknight decided to make a move to his present school, the MacDuffie School, a private boarding school in Granby, Massachusetts. “After the season, I felt like I needed to transfer out and play against better competition to get more exposure,” he said about the move to MacDuffie.

Last season, as a reclassified junior, he averaged 19.3 points, five rebounds and two assists for the Mustangs, but he also suffered a setback with a knee injury in January. When asked about his first year on the prep school scene, Bouknight replied, “I think that move helped me a lot. I went from an unknown player to a possibly ranked player to a kid with more offers to a kid that has cut his list and gets to choose the school he wants to go to.”

When he recovered from his injury, he went and played for the PSA Cardinals at the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina in July, where he averaged 3.2 points per game. But his best game during that time was an 11-point effort against Seattle Rotary. Then at a Hoop Group event in Manheim, Pennsylvania, Bouknight scored 33 points in a game in which plenty of college coaches were in attendance during the second Live Period.

Bouknight is a student of the game. (Photo courtesy of Jon Lopez Photography)

“This year, playing with PSA, I missed the whole EYBL, due to a meniscus injury, but I came back right before Peach Jam, and I had a great July and it helped to boost my stock,” he said about his summer. As of last month, he cut his list of schools to five: UConn, Miami, Virginia Tech, Indiana and VCU.

When asked what he looks for in a school, Bouknight replied, “A school that gives me a lot of freedom, a school that’s going to develop me and help me become the player I want to be to get to the next level.”

Now with his senior season coming up, all he has to look forward to is to help MacDuffie win a NEPSAC title and to choose the school of his choice. “I’m just going to try to play good ball, have fun and dominate. Just kill everything and anything in front of me and help my team win.”

You can take the Bouknight out of Brooklyn, but you can’t take the toughness and energy out of the Bouknight.

Highlights of James Bouknight:

Courtesy of Courtside Films.

Courtesy of PSA Cardinals.

Courtesy of Hoop Focus.

Courtesy of Stay Shootin’.

Courtesy of AAUball.

Courtesy of HS Box Scores NYC, LLC.

Courtesy of HS Box Scores NYC, LLC.

Courtesy of HS Box Scores NYC, LLC.

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