Bonzie Colson has never been one to get ahead of himself.
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. In fact, it’s green enough right where he is for him to spend a fourth and final season at Notre Dame.
After evaluating his opportunities as a future professional and weighing them against a) earning a Notre Dame degree and b) continuing Notre Dame’s rise as an annual force on the college scene, Colson decided to return for the 2017-18 season, teaming up with fellow senior Matt Farrell to form one of the ACC’s top inside-outside punches.
“I knew I wanted to come back,” said Colson, who averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game as a junior en route to an all-ACC first-team selection.
“I was a four-year guy. That was my goal here. That’s what we talked about at the beginning of my recruitment. I’m happy I’m here. It’s a place that I love. Getting a degree is one of the most important things for me and my family.”
A year ago, head coach Mike Brey encouraged V.J. Beachem to test the NBA waters, which he did by participating in the NBA’s non-binding camp. Colson’s long-term future in the NBA is brighter that Beachem’s if not completely certain. It came down to Colson following his original plan, which ultimately was a matter of following his heart.
“I signed a heckuva recruit today getting him back,” Brey smiled. “Bonzie was very level-headed. To his credit, he couldn’t get there mentally. He wants to finish here and be a senior captain. He’s got a chance to be one of our all-time greats.”
Brey gave Colson space to allow him and his family to make a reasoned decision and one they could live with. There will be no regrets.
“Him and his family really thought about it wisely and methodically gathered info,” Brey said. “There’s no use messing around any more. He wants to concentrate on what he needs to do to get better. He comes back with a chance to be a very decorated player and a chance to win again.
“We stayed in touch for a couple weeks and used my contacts in the NBA as well as the undergraduate advisory board. We always felt he was a four-year man.”
When Notre Dame exited the NCAA tournament in the second round against West Virginia, Brey mentioned the possibility of the Irish returning two of the top 10 players in the ACC with Colson and Farrell. Now he has that foundation, which helps absorb the blow of losing two of Notre Dame’s “all-time great winners” – Steve Vasturia and Beachem.
Once Colson turned the page, the focus immediately became Notre Dame 2017-18.
“No matter what happened, if I did (explore the NBA option), it was going to be without an agent,” Colson said. “Hearing a couple things and what my family discussed, it was important for me to stay here, get the degree, come back and lead the team to victory.
“I need improvements in some departments. I knew I wasn’t a finished product. Defending my position, becoming more athletic, trying to sharpen up my game as a whole…I’m excited about the process.
“I know I have a lot of things to work on within my game. Me knowing that made (me realize) I wasn’t going to test (the waters). I’m happy with the decision I made and my family made. It’s time to focus on this team and get it to new heights.”
Farrell admitted to a bit of trepidation over the possibility of returning for his senior season without his running mate. The sigh of relief coming from Purcell Pavilion Monday night was from Farrell.
“It means a lot to me coming off ball screens from him,” Farrell smiled. “We have a lot of fun playing together and when I found out he was coming back, it was exciting to know that I get to play with him again.
“I’m obviously very excited. I’m happy for him. It’s going to be an exciting year. We love playing together, so it’s going to be fun. He went through the process the right way and it shows you his character. One more year left.”
Colson said he wouldn’t spend the next year worrying about what he needs to do in order to play in the NBA. With improvement and the program’s continued success, that will take care of itself.
“I’m not focused on (the NBA),” Colson said. “I’m worried about now and what we can do to be better as a team. It starts with us working on our weaknesses. We have to be sharp and dedicated, as we always were. We have to keep growing and understanding that we’ve got to keep shaping our game.
“I realize who I am and I realize the work I have to put in. Me knowing that, understanding the game, I wanted to come back. That’s all I’m focused on.”