James Akinjo commits to Arizona

Photo credit: Instagram: @akinjojames3

Arizona Wildcats fans welcomed the new year with exciting news.

James Akinjo, a Salesian College Prep alum from Richmond who was the 2019 Big East Freshman of the year as a point guard at Georgetown University, announced on Instagram just minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day that he is transferring to the University of Arizona. Akinjo was called by ESPN’s Jeff Borzello “the best mid-year transfer available.”

“Happy New Year … I’m 1000 Percent Committed. Turn me up,” Akinjo wrote on Instagram while wearing an Arizona jersey.

Akinjo left the Hoyas last month after playing in seven games in his sophomore season, according to Sports Illustrated. His reasons for transferring aren’t publicly known. Last year with the Hoyas, Akinjo averaged 13.4 points and 5.2 assists per game. In the first seven games this season, he had 13.4 points and 4.4 assists, including 19 points against No. 2 Duke, although his shooting percentage trended downward. 

Akinjo has much to prove. Georgetown has gone 6-1 since he left the team, according to the Arizona Daily Wildcat. Last month, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim harshly criticized Akinjo as a guard who doesn’t pass enough, according to NBC Sports.

Arizona and its fans, however, appear happy to scoop up the star guard, who “will be eligible the second half of next season unless he receives a waiver from the NCAA,” according to the Daily Wildcat.

Akinjo, whose mother died of leukemia when he was 4, was raised by his grandmother in North Richmond and became a four-star basketball player at Salesian College Prep. After averaging 20.7 points, 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game as a senior, he was named San Francisco Chronicle Metro Player of the Year, Bay Area News Group Player of the Year, SportsStars Magazine’s NorCal Player of the Year.