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Notre Dame Basketball

Returning to Notre Dame was Easy for Colson

July 9, 2017
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When the 2016-17 basketball season started, Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson was next in line to make the 'junior jump' under head coach Mike Brey. As a sophomore, the 6-foot-5 post averaged 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, but few expected Colson to turn into one of the most dangerous players in the ACC by averaging 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game last winter.

By averaging a double-double, Colson's name was in NBA Draft circles and he had a decision to make in the spring.

“It was something I had a lot of talks with my family and Coach Brey about, but I came here to get my degree,” Colson said of his decision to return to Notre Dame. “On the court, I have a lot of things to improve on, and I couldn’t leave this place. This is my second home. I am just blessed to be here.”

Colson might have known he wanted to return to South Bend, but he still went through the process to get some feedback to see where exactly he’d fit into the 2017 draft.

“Bonzie knew four years was best for him,” stated Brey. “We made some calls and went through the regular process. We got back what we thought we’d get back. He wasn’t going to be a first round guy and maybe a second round guy. There wasn’t any drama.”

Underclassmen are now allowed to declare for the draft and go through the draft process to truly get a feel for where they stand. Players can then return to school once they get enough information as long as they don’t sign with an agent.

VJ Beachem took advantage of the rule last year before returning to Notre Dame, but Colson’s process never reached that level.

“He came to me and said he didn’t even want to go to Chicago,” Brey said of the NBA Combine. “He would have been invited to Chicago. I told him unless he was going to really go for it and try to get drafted, don’t go up there to see what it’s like. You have to go up there hungry to make money and maybe leave.

“He couldn’t get there. To his credit and his family, it was about coming back. He has a chance to do some really special things individually in our history and nationally. The guy wants to win. He feels he has a group he can win with.”

The Massachusetts native wants to get the Irish to a Final Four and also improve his own game during his senior season.

“I can improve defending better, and it wasn’t about what I heard from them,” explained Colson. “I knew I wanted to come back for my fourth year regardless of what they said. I knew it was the best thing for my family and me.

“I am staying humble. I am trying to reach our team goal of reaching the Final Four. I’m using it all as motivation to play harder and do everything I can to help our team win.”

Colson will have the preseason hype as an individual, but he wants to get the taste of the second loss to West Virginia out of his mouth.

“It was something new for all of us,” Colson said of not reaching the Elite 8. “We learned a lot from there. We have a lot of good leadership and experience to make a big run. It was a wake-up call and big reality check. We took ownership as a team.”

Brey knows why his star player returned to school and will take the steps necessary to make sure Colson is ready to produce at a high level this season.

“He wants to play in a Final Four,” stated Brey. “He has tasted two Elite 8s and played in two ACC Championship games. I don’t have to set any team goals. These guys are on it.

“My biggest thing is to keep him rested and fresh to turn him loose as a warrior three nights a week. Usually, those results are pretty good.”
 
With a big season, Colson can put himself in a good position to be drafted, and Brey can see a place for him in the league as teams are going to smaller lineups in the NBA.

“A scout had a great line, ‘If you squint real hard at Bonzie, you see Draymond Green,’” said Brey. “I’m going to take that one. It is an era of smaller guys. People are downshifting and playing smaller.

“He is a really intriguing guy. He will have a great opportunity. I just think he’s going to make because there is too big of a ticker and he just gets too much stuff done.”

 

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