Notre Dame senior forward Bonzie Colson was the overwhelming favorite when members of the media voted to name him Preseason ACC Player of the Year on Wednesday at the league’s annual media day.
Colson, who led the league in rebounding (10.1) and finished ninth in scoring (17.9) in 2016-17, received 49 of a possible 69 votes for the honor.
Known for his grit and toughness on the court as a shorter-than-average player for his position, Colson won the hearts of Notre Dame Fighting Irish fans in 2014-15 when he put in valuable bench minutes on the way to an ACC Tournament title. Now that Colson has vaulted himself into All-American status, head coach Mike Brey said that he can’t lose sight of what got him this far.
“I try to tell him, you know, now he's not the underdog anymore. He was not a top 100 recruit,” Brey said during his media day press conference. “I said you still have to remember to be that junkyard dog and find ways to put that chip on your shoulder.”
Colson was the only ACC player to average a double-double last season. At his media day press conference, he admitted that he had to talk to his family and Coach Brey about his NBA future before deciding to return for his senior season.
“I knew I had a lot of development on both sides of the floor that I needed to work on,” Colson said. “But obviously getting the degree from Notre Dame is what I went to Notre Dame for, and I knew I was a four-year guy.”
Notre Dame was also predicted to finish third in the conference, marking the team’s highest preseason ranking since joining the conference in 2013-14. The Fighting Irish fell behind Duke (1st) and North Carolina (2nd), both of which they will play on the road this season.
Senior guard Matt Farrell, who joined Colson at media day to represent the Irish, said that it’s important for them to not let the preseason expectations define their success.
“Our main goal is to get better every day,” Farrell said. “We're fortunate enough to have a couple good runs the last couple years, but like I said, we're going to take it day by day and just try to win as many games as we can.”
Colson and Farrell, roomates and best friends since their freshman year, said similar things when asked about each other. “Fire” was the common trait. Coach Brey said he admires his senior leaders’ intenisty, but wants them to be relaxed sometimes too.
“They work hard. They want it. Sometimes they want it too bad. We've got to get them to smile every now and then,” Brey said.
The Fighting Irish will open their regular season on November 11 on the road against DePaul. Until then Colson and Farrell will just have to get competitive on the practice floor, and in Madden.