All eyes were on lone senior guard Lorenzo Bonam (better known to Ute fans as ZOOOOOOOOO when he hits a big shot) on Saturday afternoon as he was honored pregame on Senior Day. Bonam didn’t disappoint, scoring a career high 26 points, including 12 in the final five minutes of the game to seal the win against Stanford.
And that was exactly how he wanted it.
Coming from Inkster, Michigan via Gillette College in Wyoming, Bonam says he learned how to work hard and it’s helped him deal with any pressure that may come his way.
“It’s exciting, being from Detroit it’s a blessing and just for me to be the only senior is kind of more exciting because [the coaches] put more pressure on me than ever before,” Bonam said. “You’ve got the coaches wanting me to do good so it’s a good feeling all around.”
Bonam’s path to Utah was not the easiest, as he had to go through junior college to reach the promised land of playing Division I hoops. “I had to make it through junior college first which I came from Wyoming in a small town,” Bonam explained of his journey to Utah. “It was real easy to get your work done because there was nothing to do and focus on basketball, so those two years and the grind that I put in and the work ethic I had- that basically carried over to here. Coming from there, it’s like you got it in your head already and you you’ve got two years in college even though it’s not Division I. It helped me. It made me advance and get to here and get [Utah] to look at me and want me to come to their school and represent them. The journey has been amazing.”
What ultimately tipped Utah in Bonam’s favor when it was time for him to make the jump to D-I was the persistence the coaches showed in recruiting him. “They wouldn’t let go. They called me. I had committed to a different school and they were still calling me so it was like- I don’t even know what they call it- that they would try to call me,” he said earnestly. “It was good to have somebody like that, that you don’t know that’s blowing your phone up trying to get you to come somewhere. I felt like that was the first sign and then all of the coaches came to my JUCO to watch one open gym and all of them came. That was a good feeling too and then after that it just fell into place.”
One of Bonam’s fondest memories with the Utes is being able to play in the same arena his favorite NBA player plays in and beat NCAA Basketball Royalty all at the same time. “Going to Madison Square Garden and playing in New York,” he said with a bright-eyed smile. “Carmelo [Anthony] is my favorite player so it was like I wanted to play wherever he played. I played in Denver at the NCAA Tournament and I played at Madison Square Garden at the Knick’s home. That was a blessing and it was a fun experience. The place was packed and we was playing Duke- that’s a dream school that everybody wants to go to and we beat them, so that was the best experience.”
Bonam has always been one to push himself, whether it was playing street ball with kids older than him, or buckling down in the classroom. But one area he’s grown in as a senior and a team captain is being able to push others to be great too. “Strive to be the greatest, don’t let nobody hold you back and bring your team along with you,” he said. “That has been the best quote because it actually makes sense. If you are striving to do your best ultimately your team is going to follow behind you and do their best too when you’re one of the leaders on the team.”
After several years away from home, Bonam hopes to be able to spend some time with his family before he sets off to make his dreams of playing at the next level come true. “I want to see my family for a minute and then get into some workouts,” he said. “Probably get an agent and hopefully get invited to the Combine, play in the Summer League and then see where life takes me after that.”
No matter where Bonam goes in life, it is his hope that fans and teammates alike will remember him as a team player who loved everyone and was always quick with a joke. “I just want to go out with the impression that everybody liked me and I had no problems with anybody,” Bonam said sincerely. “I left everything out on the court every time I stepped on it.”