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Scholastic Roundup: Another Brooklynite heads to the NBA

August 7, 2021 Andy Furman
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He grew up in Crown Heights and played high school basketball at LaSalle Academy in Manhattan.

Today, James Bouknight is a member of the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The Hornets tabbed Bouknight with the 11th overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft last week.

A 6-5 guard out of the University of Connecticut, Bouknight averaged 18.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 31.7 minutes per-game in 15 games during the 2020-21 season. For his performance last season, Bouknight was named to the All-Big East First Team as well as NABC District I Player of the Year.

Over his two seasons with the Huskies, Bouknight made 43 appearances and averaged 15.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 27.9 minutes per-game. During his freshman season, Bouknight also earned All-Conference Third Team honors and was a unanimous selection to the conference’s All-Freshman Team.

Bouknight scored a freshman season-high 23 points in a 72-71 overtime win over Cincinnati. He scored 19 points in the second half and overtime and made the two game-sealing free throws.

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As a high school junior, Bouknight averaged 17.4 points-per-game, leading his team to the New York Federation Class B state championship, and was named tournament most valuable player (MVP). He earned Catholic School Athletic Association (CHSAA) B Division MVP and New York State Sportswriters Association Class B Player of the Year accolades.

Bouknight brings a scoring punch to the Hornets backcourt alongside LaMelo Ball. With Malik Monk hitting restricted free agency, Bouknight will likely replace his role as the sixth man off the bench as the primary bench scorer.

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Veteran NBA scout and collegiate basketball coach and administrator Bobby Castagna joined the Siena College basketball staff as an assistant coach. The Lafayette High (1968) grad has pent more than four decades at both the collegiate and professional athletics levels – including 19 years as an NBA scout with the Utah Jazz.

“It is such an honor that I am able to announce the addition of Coach Bobby Castagna to our coaching staff,” said head coach Carmen Maciariello, in a prepared statement upon Castagna’s appointment. “He is a tremendous teacher who builds lifelong relationships with the student athletes that he mentors not only in the game of basketball, but in life.”

Castagna joins the Saints after having worked in the scouting department for the Utah Jazz since 2002. He was their West Coast Regional scout on a part-time basis from 2002-10, while concurrently serving as the Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of California, Santa Barbara during those eight years.

He first joined UCSB as an assistant coach from 1989-96, helping guide the Gauchos to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament in 1990 and a pair of National Invitation Tournament (NIT) appearances (1992, 1993), while recruiting All-Big West selections Raymond Tutt (Big West Player of the Year), B.J. Bunton, Lelan McDougal, and Josh Merrill. During his time in Southern California, he also spent 11 years as the director of the Los Angeles Lakers Basketball Camps (1999-10).

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In addition to UCSB, Castagna has served as a Division I assistant coach at New Hampshire (1996-99), Baylor (1988-89), and Fresno State (1975-88). He recruited future Saints Maciariello and Cavo to UNH, and both coached and mentored current Utah Jazz Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations, Dennis Lindsey at Baylor.

Castagna is a 1975 graduate of California State University, Northridge, with his B.A. in Physical Education. He was a member of the CSUN basketball team, where he started his senior year.

He began his collegiate coaching career spending seven years at the junior college level. After serving as an assistant coach at Los Angeles Valley College (1979-81) and Los Angeles Mission College (1977-79), he spent three years as the head coach at LAVC (1982-85). Castagna led Los Angeles Valley College to back-to-back 20-win seasons, earning him 1983-84 Mountain Valley Coach of the Year honors. He guided LAVC to the 1983-84 MVC Championship, while coaching two-time Junior College All-American Larry Middleton. Castagna first began coaching as the assistant varsity coach and head junior varsity coach at Chatsworth (Calif.) High School from 1975-78.

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From Ben Howland, Head Basketball Coach, Mississippi State (Former longtime assistant coach with Castagna at UC Santa Barbara)
“Bobby is an outstanding coach. He’s very knowledgeable about the game of basketball, and is an outstanding teacher. I think his greatest strength, though is that he’s a great example of a good person, and will be an outstanding mentor for the players on the team. He’s coached at the highest levels of basketball, and has scouted in the NBA for years, so he has a deep breadth of experience. Coach Marciariello is getting a great coach and an outstanding person to join his staff.”

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected].

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