Getting A Bonzie Colson Autograph On A Boston Street To Interviewing Him From My Hospital Room In Germany Two Years Later Shows How Small The Basketball World Is

The basketball world can be so small sometimes. It was May 2019 when I was home in Boston for a routine visit to see my family and as usual I couldn’t refrain from still following my childhood autograph desire. I may be a grown man now, but for me I still can get a chill getting a selfie with a Jason Kidd or seeing a Lebron James walk by me onto the bus. The Milwaukee Bucks were in town for a playoff series against the Boston Celtics. I saw the Bucks twice and was lucky to see many great players like the Greek freak Giannis Antetokounpo, Kris Middleton or a Eric Bledsoe. Even if those guys refrained from signing, I really didn’t care at the end of the day, because the highlight was meeting Spanish legend Pau Gasol who was hurt, but luckily was traveling with the team. I also as usual couldn’t take a day off and even interviewed Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee who I had covered in Germany 10 years ago. There were some bucks who stopped to sign like Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton or Donte Divincenzo and there was another guy that exited the posh five star hotel who looked young and had to be a rookie. I asked an experienced autograph collector next to me who that was and he quickly blurted Bonzie Colson Jr. (198-PF-96, college: Notre Dame). Bonzie who? The name stuck out with me. Since I cover the game in Europe, I don’t follow the NBA or NCAA as much. Colson came out and signed a few autographs. He wasn’t as in demand as the stars, but was very polite and signed my index card and then was off to the bus. Fast forward ahead to April 2021. When I was checking the Strasburg roster at the start of the season, I was very happy to see three ex BBL players play in France and then I saw the name Bonzie Colson Jr. and right away remembered I had seen him in Boston two years earlier. I right away wanted to interview him. There I was speaking to Bonzie Colson Jr. over the phone in Germany. I was in the hospital recovering from Cancer in Mainz, Germany and he was in Strasburg, France about a two hour drive from me. The first thing that stood out again was his politeness on the phone. My vast basketball network helped me once again with being able to get this interview. Colson’s has three Strasburg teammates with Deandre Lansdowne, Brandon Jefferson and Ishmail Wainwright who I had interviewed on many occasions the last years in Germany. He definitely agreed with me that sometimes the basketball world can be so tiny. ‘The basketball world doesn’t seem so big when I signed an autograph for you in Boston and now were here doing an interview. I talked to my teammates Brandon, Ishmail and Deandre and they said you were a nice guy so why not. I like to talk basketball’, said Bonzie Colson Jr..

Bonzie Colson signing for the Boston autograph posse during the 2019 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics
Bonzie Colson autograph in 2019
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee during the 2019 playoffs in Boston

Before we delve into the fascinating basketball career of Bonzie Colson Jr., it has to be known that the versatile player isn’t only a talented hoopster and well mannered young man, but a gifted actor something he began to cherish in high school and later continued to pursue at Notre Dame (NCAA). He is still at the beginning of a long and fruitful basketball career, but getting back to acting is something he could imagine doing later in life. ‘If I got a call to do something why not. I was lucky that my high school coach Mike Heart allowed us to do something out of our comfort zone. I really have fond memories. When I was a freshman I did Aladdin with NBA player Michael Carter-Williams playing Aladdin. I and my teammates had small roles as his guards. I had a bigger role as a junior as I was in Guys and Dolls and in my senior year I had the main role as Sunny in Grease. I wouldn’t mind doing TV one day. I like A Game of Thrones and am a fanatic of the Office. I’m an outgoing guy and have the type of character to be an actor’, stated Bonzie Colson Jr.. He also remembered doing a skit in high school where his teammate Matt Farrell who currently is playing professionally in Turkey with Buyukcekmece Basketbol was playing his misbehaving son. When I put him on the spot and asked him which current teammate could play that role now, he didn’t hesitate for a moment before firing the name Ishmail Wainwright at me. ‘Ish is an outgoing and funny guy. He is always smiling. He is expressional like me. He is the type of guy that may of done things in life the way I did’, expressed Bonzie Colson Jr.. TV might be his calling, but he also follows movies and like many has seen the new Coming to America sequel. Like many he wasn’t as impressed with this one as much as the classic original. ‘The first one was way better. It isn’t easy to make a better one. Many of the actors from the original came back, but were older. But everyone one wanted another one’, said Bonzie Colson Jr.. I’m definitely hope Colson goes into acting, because if he learned the acting trade at St Andrew’s in Rhode Island the same school where Andrew Robinson went to, then he must of learned something. I still think, Andrew Robinson should have been nominated for an Oscar in Dirty Harry. He was the perfect crazy killer.

Colson was born on January 12th, 1996 in Washington DC. He grew up in New Bedford Massachusetts. He comes from a basketball family. His dad played at the University of Rhode Island and was one of the school’s top shot blocking leaders. Later he would be an assistant at George Washington and Boston College. Despite being only 193cm, Bonzie went on to shine in the front court. He had a wing span of 2,12cm and was ignored by major programs. Notre Dame assistant coach Martin Inglelsby who then would become head coach at Delaware saw something special in Colson and felt like he would fit perfectly into the Notre Dame system., Colson would attend Notre Dame for four years. Ingelsby was very important for Colson being able to develop as a player with the strength that he had of being undersized and playing in the front court. ‘Notre Dame was a great fix for me with basketball and academics. Ingelsby had played there and for head coach Mike Brey and knew what it was like to play for him. Brey gave me the needed trust and comfort. I have a great relationship with Ingelsby. I learned a lot from him”, commented Bonzie Colson Jr..

He remembered always beating current NBA player Jerami Grant in one on one duels in practice played at Notre Dame from 2014-2018 playing a total of 126 NCAA games being able to improve his scoring stats each season. He achieved a lot with the school wining the ACC tournament and reaching the NCAA Elite 8 twice. Right in his freshman season where he played 32 games averaging 5.6ppg, 2.7rpg, FGP: 62.5%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 75.4%, he already witnessed his personal favorite moment. ‘Winning the ACC tournament was by far my biggest achievement in the NCAA. Coming from high school to the NCAA and playing in the top conference ACC and winning was amazing. The ACC has top coaches, great teams and players. We are still a brotherhood today. That is what made that team so special’, remembered Bonzie Colson Jr.. He came off the bench in 31 of 32 games and scored in double figures in 5 games. His top game was netting 17 points against Duke in a 74-64 win. He was so fired up for the game and seized the moment. ‘I was working hard in practice for an opportunity to play. I was playing well in practice and got the opportunity. Our captain Pat Connaughton was a big help. He told me to be that junk yard dog and come of the screen and roll and just shoot. That is what I did. We trusted each other. This game allowed my career to skyrocket’, remembered Bonzie Colson Jr.. His season ended with a brutal 68-66 loss to Kentucky in the Elite 8. That powerhouse team would send 8 of 9 players to the NBA including guard Devin Booker who later would net 70 points in an NBA game. That was the best team that he ever faced in the NCAA. ‘Booker was coming off the bench. That is how talented they were. They were really stacked, but we also had a great team. We took them to the wire. That just showed how good the talent level was then’, said Bonzie Colson Jr.. In his sophomore season he played 37 games averaging 11.3ppg, 6.8rpg, FGP: 54.3%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 78.3%. His game took off as he scored in double figures in 23 games. He also contributed 5 double doubles. He best game was a huge 31 point 11 rebound explosion in a 95-91 win against top school Duke. He was ousted in the Elite 8 for a second straight year this time by North Carolina 88-74 as he contributed 8 points and 5 boards. It was another game where he faced off against many future NBA players. ‘They were so talented. I remember the Harrison twins, Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige who was hard to defend and shot well over the screens. I remember Isaac Hicks and Justin Johnson. They were so quick and athletic’, stated Bonzie Colson Jr.. His game went to another level in his last two years as he played a total of 57 games averaging 17.8ppg, 10.1rpg, 1.6apg, 1.1spg, 1.4bpg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 43.3%, FT: 78.3% as a junior and as a senior averaged 19.7ppg, 10.1rpg, 1.7spg, 2.2bpg, FGP: 55.1%, 3PT: 29.3%, FT: 76.1%. He scored in double figures in 55 of 57 games and scored 20 points or more 22 times and had 30 double doubles. He exploded for 37 points in a win over Dartmouth and scorched Florida State for 33 points. One could see that his game progressed in his 4 years. ‘It was the four best years of my life. I got better and better in shape each year. I learned more and more how the game worked and my teammates depended on me. My teammates and I had a great relationship and I was able to be that dominant player. We had a lot of talented players and a great group of guys and coaching staff’, remembered Bonzie Colson Jr.. His hard work paid off allowing him to become a professional player, but also head coach Mike Brey was instrumental for Colson becoming the player that he is today. ‘He allowed us to play. We didn’t have that pressure. He taught us to have fun but to always give a lot of energy. He also helped me become a leader’, warned Bonzie Colson Jr..

He lists NBA players Jahlil Okafor, Montrezl Harrell and Marvin Bagley as his toughest opponents in the NCAA wasn’t drafted, but signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He then was sent to the Canton Charge (G-League) and was able to demonstrate that he could play averaging 15.4ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.4apg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 39.2%, FT: 65.8%. He had some monster games against OKC with 27/16 stats and a 25/11 game against Long Island, but it still wasn’t enough for the NBA. His hard work and results in his first pro job was so vital for him reaching the NBA not too long afterward. ‘I was upset getting cut by the Cavs, but I knew that it was a business. Coach Posey taught me what it meant to be a pro. I worked hard each day and was very motivated. It was a great learning experience’, stated Bonzie Colson Jr.. In January 2019 came his big break as he was signed by the Milwaukee Bucks. He continued to play very well in the G-League this time with the Wisconsin Herd (NBA G League averaging 14.5ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 29.5%, FT: 76.7%. He produced 28 points against Maine and the Raptors and made his NBA debut on March 25th in a 117-106 win over the Chicago Bulls playing 3 minutes. ‘I remember coach Bud calling my game. It was great checking into the game. I was able to play loose and have fun. I remember having to guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. I was trying to do everything I could to show that I belong’, remembered Bonzie Colson Jr.. In 6 of his 8 games, he only logged 4 minutes or less, but in two games he received ample minutes and showed that he belonged 100% in the NBA putting up 15/16 stats against Atlanta and 21%10 stats against Oklahoma. ‘I started both games. I remember guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tony Snell, Kris Middleton and Pat Connaughton being excited for me and giving me the confidence. It was a great experience’, stressed Bonzie Colson Jr.. In a roster that was stacked with so much talent and experience, it wasn’t easy for him to find good minutes. He never had a face to face conversation with head coach Mike Budenholzer concerning playing time. ‘I was thankful for the opportunity and being able to play in a system where I could play my game and enjoy it. I just tried to do the best I could and stay ready. You never knew when your number would be called’, said Bonzie Colson Jr..

The American was very fortunate to have so many great players around where he could soak up as much as possible. One of those guys was Spanish legend Pau Gasol. Gasol was injured and played only 3 games for the Bucks but traveled with the squad. They both had a special relationship and an extraordinary duty while on the bench. ‘Pau is my guy. He is such a great guy. I picked his brain a lot and I learned a lot. We were always talking about the game on the bench. We also helped the coaching staff. He couldn’t move so well so when he saw something on the court we had a system on how that would be delivered to him. It was a long chain but it reached coach Bud. Pau told me information and I gave that to Tim Frazier who gave it an assistant who then told coach Bud’, remembered Bonzie Colson Jr.. It was also cool and beneficial having his ex Notre Dame teammate Pat Connaughton by his side during his Bucks stay. ‘Pat is my guy. He is a real leader. Everybody loved him on campus. He always believed in me and kept me motivated and ready when I wasn’t playing at the start of my NCAA career. In the NBA, I picked his brain. He gave me the ball for my first NBA field goal. We are brothers and always check up on each other’, stated Bonzie Colson Jr.. He is obviously very grateful for getting the opportunity from the Milwaukee Bucks to showcase his skills in the NBA, but also knows that there are a lot of factors that determine if a guy can get that NBA chance or not. ‘At the end of the day the NBA is a business. There is so much beyond your control. You never know what is on the mind of a GM. You can only control what you can control. Never complain, but just get better. You can only control your own actions and do the most you can to get into that situation to get a NBA job like having work ethic, being dedicated, always asking questions and being motivated’, warned Bonzie Colson Jr.. In the summer of 2019, he played NBA Summer League with the Milwaukee Bucks averaging 13.0ppg, 5.8rpg, FGP: 47.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 69.6%. Despite having a good summer, he didn’t return to the NBA. A two way deal was up in the air, but overall teams were unsure about him. So he decided to come overseas, play well and hopefully get back to the NBA in the future.

He lists NBA legends Jordan, Kareem, Lebron, Shaq and Kobe on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore first club overseas was the well known Turkish club with Darussafaka Istanbul (Turkey-BSL). He demonstrated in two competitions that he didn’t have many adjustment problems on the court playing 16 Eurocup games averaging 10.8ppg, 5.0rpg, FGP: 38.4%, 3PT: 45.9%, FT: 84.9%; and played 23 Turkish BSL games averaging 12.2ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.4spg, FGP: 55.0%, 3PT: 36.8%, FT: 90.0%. Even if he was able to shine on the court, his mentality had to get used to being somewhere else other than the NBA. That the NBA is the only thing mentality is something that many Americans bring to Europe. Some falter while other like Colson are able to cope and adjust. ‘It was tough being away from home, but great to be in a new culture and meet new people. But as a kid I always wanted to be in the NBA. When I got overseas, it was a big reality check. I found out guys were really good here. I had sort of an NBA ego. But I’m a humble guy by nature and understood right away that I still need to work on my game more. It was a great experience and I’m still learning today’, warned Bonzie Colson Jr.. He also was extremely fortunate to have American Jarrod Jones as a teammate. So often the veterans can serve as being a vital mentor for those young Americans being overseas for the first time. ‘Jarrod was like a big brother for me. He taught me the ropes of playing overseas. I always picked his brain. He taught me that you need to grind each day and just taught me to be a pro in Europe’, remembered Bonzie Colson Jr..

Let’s fast forward to 2021. Bonzie Colson Jr. continued to grow as a player in Europe and had a fabulous season in France for SIG Strasburg. The organization played for the French Pro A title and lost in the semi-finals against Asvell and reached the Basketball Champions League semi-finals losing to Spanish club Burgos. With COVID still wrecking havoc around the world, he wasn’t able to do as much exploring off the court, but was able to focus more on his game. He was well aware that SIG Strasburg are like the Buffalo Bills of the early 90’s. The team then led by head coach Marv Levy reached 4 Super bowls losing each one. SIG Strasburg have reached 5 finals since 2013 and lost each one. ‘For this club each day is about what we can do to win the title. Everyone has been great and I have nothing negative to say. We work day by day as hard as we can to be as successful as possible. We want to keep building on from the past and build a new legacy’, stated Bonzie Colson Jr. in April 2021. When you look at the SIG Strasburg roster, you won’t find those well known American players, but that isn’t always a guarantee for success. Having the heart of gold and a chip as big as Shaq on your shoulder sprayed with sound abilities can at times be more valuable then being that ex NBA player. With Deandre Lansdowne, Ishmail Wainwright and Brandon Jefferson, the team has three guys that have had to pay their dues for years and still are very hungry and not satisfied yet and have that unremovable chip on their shoulder. ‘I really look up to guys like Deandre and Brandon. They came from D-2 programs and now are in a top league in Europe. You really have to take your hat off to them. With their work ethic and dedication that they bring and to see where they are now is something that not many can say they have done. It is motivation for all. Ish is my guy. He is a great player and person. We room and often talk about our college days. He is always pushing everyone in practice. Every team should have a guy like him. They always come to work with a smile on their faces. They are an inspiration for all’, warned Bonzie Colson Jr..

The American last watched The Return of The Jedi is a player that is undersized and compares his game as a mix between Draymond Greene, PJ Tucker and Jared Dudley. Scoring and rebounding is as easy for him as it is for Clint Cappela to haul down a rebound, but his biggest strength on the court is simple. His ability to use his size, wing span, speed and awareness to his advantage at both ends of the court. This is something that teams have continued to witness this season, but at a lot higher rate and consistency than last season. That coupled with being able to shine playing with grit which is in his identity until the last whistle is something that will continue to carry him far in his career. He continues to work on his game. He wants to have the opportunity to also to defend the 1-2 positions and continue to improve his awareness on defense, get over screens and improve his shooting. His game continues to grow especially with the aid from guys like Jarrod Jones and Deandre Lansdowne. His defense has grown overseas and he has the game to continue to climb the ladder as there are 2 leagues that definitely will be on his mind this summer when it’s time to think options for next season. ‘It will be an interesting summer. My two goals are the NBA and the Euroleague. We will see what happens. I can’t be worried about the future, but now I need to stay focused and hungry’, warned Bonzie Colson Jr.. His overpowering season in France and the Basketball Champions League where he averaged 18/5/2/1 in both competitions should open up many doors for him. He didn’t reach two of his goals as he signed with up and coming club Pinar Karsiyaka in Turkey, but will play Basketball Champions League and have another opportunity to show the basketball world that he has the game to play at the highest level. While for me it will be compelling to see when we have our third meeting? I definitely would like to see him in person again before possibly seeing him spray his outgoing personality somewhere on the big or little screen playing that special role as an actor.

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