Don’t try to label Bonzie Colson, it’s impossible. The senior All-American forward from Notre Dame doesn’t fit into a basketball-related box because he’s unlike anyone else in college basketball. Colson’s build, playing style and penchant for showing up in big moments make him the most watchable player in college basketball.
Even Colson’s coach can’t fully define him. On Sunday, Mike Brey was asked to talk about his star forward and he was puzzled how to describe him. Brey said, “He’s unique. I don’t know what position he is. He’s 6’5″ with a 7’2″ wingspan. He doesn’t have a neck. He doesn’t have calves.”
All of that is true. Colson looks more like an overweight tight end than a basketball player, but man does he make it work. Somehow, in four years he’s turned himself into quite possibly the best player in the nation. Sure, he doesn’t have the ceiling of Miles Bridges or any of Duke’s (roughly) nine five-star freshmen, but Colson gets it done on the court as well as any player in college basketball.
Brey continued, “I think he’s just one of those great stories in college basketball. A guy that’s gotten better every year. He’s a four-year guy. He’s a throwback a little bit who’s understood, ‘I need all four years to get better.'”
Last season, Colson averaged 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals in 32.1 minutes per game. He also shot 52.6 from the field and 43.3 percent from 3-point range. In short, he was a complete player on both ends of the floor. Not bad for a guy who was just a three-star recruit out of Rhode Island.
So far this season, Colson has turned it up a notch. In three games he’s averaging 20.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.0 blocks and 1.3 steals in 31.3 minutes per game. The competition will step up this week though, as Colson and the Irish take part in the Maui Invitational.
A tournament win in Maui would certainly start Colson’s quest for National Player of the Year out on the right foot. And the Irish will certainly be relying on him heavily this season, particularly in clutch moments.
“The guy wants to win and when the games are the biggest in his career, and the lights are the brightest, man has he delivered for us,” Brey said.
Brey isn’t just hyping his guy, Colson has always been huge for the Irish in big games. Against Duke in last year’s ACC Tournament he dropped 29 and nine in 38 minutes. In that tournament he averaged 22.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.2 steals. Against ranked teams last season, Colson averaged 19.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. He clearly relishes the big moments.
Colson is a guy who has earned everything he’s gotten. He hasn’t just coasted on talent or pure physical gifts. Sadly, that’s rare to see in college basketball these days.
Typically top college basketball players fall into categories and those sometimes overlap. Whether it’s the McDonald’s All-American, the uber-athlete, the NBA prospect, the hustle player or the standing shooter, most players are easy to define. If you’re sick of that type of categorizing, watch Bonzie Colson play this week out in Maui.
Just don’t try to define him, it would be a waste of time.