STORRS - James Bouknightâ€™s career as member of the UConn menâ€™s basketball team is off to inauspicious start.
The freshman guard has been charged by campus police with evading responsibility, interfering with a police officer, traveling too fast for conditions, and operating a car without a license stemming from a car accident Sept. 27.
According to police, in an incident that took place at 1:32 a.m. that evening, the car Bouknight was driving was traveling â€śat a high rate of speed.â€ť It eventually collided with a street sign at the intersection of Royce Circle and Wilbur Cross Way, which is in the Storrs Center development just off the schoolâ€™s campus.
An officer pulled Bouknight over and told him to remain in the car, a police report indicated, but Bouknight exited the car and told the officer he had no identification. As the officer continued to talk to Bouknight, police said he ran from the scene.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, who attended the MacDuffie School in Granby, Massachusetts, Bouknight was located not long after in UConn dormitory. Police say he admitted then to being involved in the accident and that he didnâ€™t have a driverâ€™s license.
â€śHeâ€™s struggling, and he should be,â€ť UConn coach Dan Hurley said Tuesday afternoon during a meeting with reporters. â€śHe made some bad choices that night.â€ť
Bouknight is scheduled to appear in Rockville Superior Court on Oct. 29. UConnâ€™s first official practice of the season was Sept. 28, the day after Bouknightâ€™s accident and interaction with the campus police. Hurley said the coaching staff was aware of the basic facts of the event by then.
â€śThis is something we have been dealing with since the day after the incident,â€ť Hurley said. â€śWeâ€™ve been dealing with him on it and have been aware of it since.â€ť
Hurley didnâ€™t say whether or not Bouknight would be held out any of the Huskiesâ€™ games, or what specific repercussions from the team he is facing.
â€śI think every player you deal with, you hand it individually based on your level of trust in that individual, their track record, and their history. Obviously thereâ€™s been internal punishments or discipline that have been ongoing since we learned of it,â€ť Hurley said. â€śThatâ€™s something weâ€™ll keep in-house in terms of suspension. We have to kind of let the process play out and then obviously youâ€™re also gauging Jamesâ€™ response to the situation as well.
â€śBut in the end I think the biggest punishment or the fallout from this thing is going to be the damage to his reputation. The shame, the embarrassment that heâ€™s caused himself, that heâ€™s caused his family, that heâ€™s caused the program, his teammates, the university.â€ť
Bouknight was not allowed to speak with reporters following practice on Tuesday but did issue a statement through the school.
â€śI was irresponsible and made some foolish choices that I regret,â€ť Bouknight said. â€śI want to apologize to my family, my coaches, and my teammates for this situation and for creating an unnecessary distraction as we get ready for the upcoming season.
â€śBut I intend to use this experience to learn from my mistakes and make better life decisions going forward.â€ť
Bouknight participated in UConnâ€™s First Night celebration on Friday. Hurley said he isnâ€™t keeping the freshman guard away from the team or his teammates at this point.
â€śHeâ€™s had to deal with coaches who are really, really down on him for several weeks now,â€ť Hurley said. â€śIâ€™m already a tough guy to play for. So compound that with the choices he made that night, and itâ€™s been extremely uncomfortable for him to be around the program.
â€śBut what Iâ€™m not a big proponent of is isolating him based on this situation,â€ť Hurley continued. â€śHeâ€™s been around and weâ€™ve been incredibly hard for him to deal with.â€ť
Hurley, now in his second season as UConnâ€™s head coach, was forced to deal with suspensions to two his players at the start of last season. Guard Jalen Adams and forward Sidney Wilson were suspended for a â€śviolation of team rulesâ€ť on the eve of the 2018-19 season and held out of a scrimmage the team played against Harvard. Adams returned for the Huskiesâ€™ next game while Wilsonâ€™s suspension lasted a month.