Georgetown’s James Akinjo has been named the 2019 BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.
Akinjo is the seventh Hoya to win the award and the first since Greg Monroe in 2009. Four of the previous six winners from Georgetown went on to be NBA First Round Draft Picks including current coach Patrick Ewing who was selected No. 1 overall in 1985.
Given the keys to drive Ewing’s offense from Day 1, Akinjo led the league in assists per game (5.4) while orchestrating the highest scoring offense in the BIG EAST.
The 6-foot point guard from Oakland averaged 13.3 points per game – the second best mark by a freshman in the league this season - only a fraction behind teammate Mac McClung. Akinjo scored the most points by a freshman as McClung missed a few games due to injury.
Earlier in the week Akinjo was joined on the All-Freshman Team by McClung and Josh LeBlanc – becoming just the second trio in league history to do so.
“It meant a lot,” Akinjo said on Monday about the First Team honors. “That’s something that we all put in the back of our heads along with our team goals.”
“It shows the dominance of our class throughout the conference. There’s nothing better than growing up with these guys.”
Viewed by many as Georgetown’s most important incoming point guard in years, Akinjo wasted no time in delivering for the Hoya faithful.
Akinjo earned his first of four BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Awards on the heels of a 19 point, seven assist performance as Georgetown earned an important road win at Illinois in November.
A starter in 30 of 31 games for Georgetown, Akinjo scored over 20 points on four occasions including a season-high matching 25 as the Hoyas picked up their first road win over a ranked opponent last weekend No. 16 Marquette. In that game Akinjo also drew the defensive assignment on First Team All-BIG EAST selection Markus Howard and held the conference’s leading scorer to a poor night shooting – just 8 for 25 from the field.
“I embrace every matchup,” Akinjo said about facing the best offensive players in the league.
In his one game coming off Ewing’s bench, Akinjo set a career high with 11 assists against Creighton on Jan 21.
While dealing with struggles from the field at times, Akinjo was able to offset that by getting to the line more than any other Hoya and doing work while there. Akinjo (82 percent) finished 8th in the league in free throw shooting percentage.
Going into Thursday’s game against Seton Hall in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals, Akinjo has made 50 3-pointers this season, putting him third in Hoya history as a freshman. Teammate Jamorko Pickett sent the mark last year with 56 which might only last one season if the Hoyas get on a roll in March.
In continuing to look ahead, if Akinjo can continue his strong play from the end of the season, he has a pretty good shot at becoming the first Georgetown freshman to earn a spot on the BIG EAST All-Tournament team since DaJuan Summers did so in 2007.
The sky is the limit for the Damian Lillard’s favorite college point guard!
James Akinjo ... PG for Georgetown is the toughest point guard in the country— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) March 9, 2019