When James Bourne steps onto the basketball court Saturday for the College of Charleston’s senior day ceremony, he’ll finally be able to honor the most important person in his life — his mother.
Bourne, a fifth-year transfer student who graduated from Winthrop University with a degree in business administration last year, has never taken part in a senior day celebration at the high school or collegiate level.
As a senior at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va., Bourne missed the team’s senior ceremony because of a knee injury he suffered the night before. Bourne also missed his senior season at Winthrop because of a knee injury.
So Saturday when the Cougars take on UNC Wilmington at TD Arena, Bourne will finally be able to escort his mother, Francine Brown, onto the court and pay tribute to all that’s she’s done for him. Bourne and walk-on senior Harrison Bowne will be honored before the 6 p.m. game.
“Getting this opportunity to go on the court before the game and to show her how much she has meant to me is a big reason why I decided to come back and play another year,” Bourne said. “I didn’t get a chance to do it in high school or at Winthrop and I want her to know how much I love her and thank her for everything that she’s done for me. I wouldn’t be here without her.”
The decision to return for a fifth year and leave Winthrop wasn’t an easy one for Bourne. After playing in 92 games and starting in 51 over three years, Bourne and Winthrop decided to part ways.
“At the end of the day I realized that this was a business and it was a decision that was mutually made between the coaching staff and myself,” Bourne said. “It was hard to leave some of my friends behind because we had such a great relationship, but this was the best decision for me and now I feel like I’m a part of a new family.”
The 6-8, 250-pound Bourne has been a reliable post player off the bench. A player that gives the Cougars some added size, strength and experience. In 16 games, Bourne has averaged 3.6 points and 2.6 rebounds a game.
“When we first started to talk with James, we wanted to make sure he would be a good fit in our locker room,” said College of Charleston coach Earl Grant. “We wanted a guy that was mature, who knew his role and could come in and help us right away. James has been all of that and more. He’s a great person, a great leader and has done everything we’ve asked of him.”
Bourne admitted he was a little concerned about how he’d be perceived by the current Cougar players when he joined the program over the summer.
“When I came here I wanted to make sure that the guys didn’t think I was just here to play basketball and that I didn’t care about them,” Bourne said. “At first it was kind of difficult to try and get to know everyone. But through some of the stuff we did in the offseason and living around them we got to know each other. I think I’ve got a great relationship with all the guys now.”
As the oldest player on a roster that features three freshman starters, Bourne said he felt he needed to be a more vocal leader than he was at Winthrop.
“I think that’s something that has kind of evolved as the season has gone on,” Bourne said. “I’ve spoken up when I think the time called for it. I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries, but there were times when I felt like I needed to say something.”