Despite lack of size, Bonzie Colson has proven to be a high-major forward this summer in the EYBL

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At 6-foot-5 Bonzie Colson isn’t the typical high-major power forward. Yet this summer playing with the renowned Boston Amateur Athletic Club (BABC), he cemented himself as a breakout prospect in the Class of 2014.

Colson was already in the middle of a solid 2013 year after averaging 16.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.5 blocks this season as a junior at St. Andrew’s School (R.I.), earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors. He was a New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Class AA first team selection, and would have led the Saints to the Class AA title if it weren’t for this play.

However, he attributes the rise in his recruitment to playing on the EYBL circuit.

“I think the biggest thing was the EYBL,” Colson told NBC Sports in July. “Last year I was suppose to play in California, but I didn’t have the chance because I had school.”

Colson got that chance this time around, manning the BABC frontline — a spot that has been held in previous summers by the likes of Nerlens Noel, Georges Niang and Alex Oriakhi. All of those alums stand 6-foot-7 or taller, and despite being several inches shorter Colson was able to help BABC qualify for the Peach Jam while averaging 18.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

“He’s been in the program and this year was just his year to assume those responsibilities,” BABC coach Leo Papile told NBC Sports in a phone interview last week. “In our system, the four is a guy that we go to a lot in the pick-and-roll.

“He’s an undersized power forward, but he has extraordinary length and reach. All those factors with his craftiness led him to be one of the best scoring power forwards.”

He isn’t over quick or athletic, but Colson is crafty. He scores in a variety of ways. He is good at getting his defender off balance, which can help create space to face up and shot or he can draw contact when driving to the basket. He wasn’t just one of the more efficient scorers in the EYBL, he was the league’s most efficient player with a 29.89 player efficiency rating (PER).

“He is very productive, high field goal percentage, low turnover, high-volume rebounder,” Papile added. “All those numbers lend to a solid offensive player.”

Colson’s skill set help make up for his lack of size in the post, but his willingness to do the little things also make him an even more intriguing college prospect.

“I’m more in shape now,” Colson said. “I’m working on doing the things that people don’t usually do on the court like taking charges and helping out on defense.”

Now at the end of the summer, Colson currently holds offers from multiple ACC schools such as Florida State, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, as well as programs like Iowa State, Minnesota, Temple and his father’s alma mater Rhode Island.

According to Papile, Colson is leaning towards taking visits to Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, though, nothing is scheduled at the moment. He has the luxury of having Papile, St. Andrew’s coach Mike Hart — who coached Philadelphia 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams — and his father, Bonzie, Sr. — who has been both a high school recruit, as well as an assistant coach at URI, George Washington and Boston College — guiding him through the recruiting process.

This summer, after logging major minutes in the EYBL, going up against some of the top posts players in the nation, Colson went from little-known recruit to high-major prospect.

“I got the chance to play with some of the best competition in the country, and it paid off for me,” Colson added.

Bluiett back to Xavier for senior season

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Xavier lost one significant piece to the professional ranks this spring, but will return another.

Trevon Bluiett, the team’s leading scorer last year, announced via social media that he will be back to play his senior season with the Musketeers.

Chris Mack will return the bulk of a roster that struggled February only to make a run to the Elite Eight, but getting Bluiett for a final season makes the Musketeers especially dangerous. The 6-foot-6 Bluiett scored a team-high 18.5 points per game last year while also putting up 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. He shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team. His return, even with point guard Edmond Sumner going pro amid his ACL tear recovery, makes Xavier one of the top teams in the Big East heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bluiett himself is enough to keep Xavier relevant in the league, but when he’s coupled with the likes of returners JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodwin, plus a recruiting class featuring two four-star prospects, it’s not difficult to see a path for Mack’s group to a place where they can compete with the likes of Villanova and Seton Hall atop the league.

Welsh and Holiday returning to UCLA

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UCLA sustained some major, though expected, attrition from its roster this spring. On Tuesday, the Bruins announced a pair of significant contributors that will be back.

Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will both return next season to the UCLA program, according to the school.

Welsh, a 7-foot center, averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior last year for the Bruins. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and blocked 1.2 shots per game, and decided to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent before ultimately deciding to return to Westwood.

“Thomas has worked hard all spring,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We supported him testing the NBA waters and are excited to have him returning for his senior year. He simply continues to develop each and every season.

“Thomas will be one of the top centers in college basketball next year and, undoubtedly, has a great chance to be a first-round pick in next season’s draft.”

The 6-foot-1 Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists last season while sharing a backcourt with Lonzo Ball, whose departure, along with those of TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will leave UCLA with a very different look next season. The positive results, however, may not fluctuate too significantly with Welsh and Holiday coming back to play alongside two five-star recruits, Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands, as well as Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo.

West Virginia’s Macon forgoing final year

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West Virginia’s attempt to dethrone Kansas atop the Big 12 took a bit of a hit Tuesday.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced his decision to forego a fifth year in Morgantown in order to pursue a professional career.

“First things first I would like to say thank you Bob Huggins and Erik Martin for believing in a young 15-year-old boy growing up from the Southside of Columbus, OH losing my mother and still having you guys push me to be the man I have become,” Macon said according to the school. “I can do nothing but thank you for all you and Mountaineer Nation (have) done for me. Unfortunately, I will not be returning for my senior season at WVU and instead sign with a(n) agent and play professional basketball. Thank you guys for all the love and support!”

Macon wasn’t a major contributor for the Mountaineers last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, but he was an experienced and tough player who was well-versed in Huggins’ style and demands. Given the pace that the newly-fashioned Press Virginia plays at, depth is also paramount for them as a program.

Macon’s departure, though, may have been expected or at least partly anticipated by West Virginia. The Mountaineers signed five players in its most recent recruiting class, putting them one over their allotment of 13, so something had to give. West VIrginia will stay have interior depth, anchored by junior Esa Ahmad, so the loss of Macon is one they likely can weather, even if it may take some time to acclimate the newcomers.

“Elijah is in the process of completing classes during this summer school period that ends June 2 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in August,” Huggins said in a statement released by the school. “I respect his decision to become a professional basketball player and to go make money to support his family. He had a great four years with us, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Key returning to Alabama for sophomore season

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Alabama’s top scorer is returning to school.

Braxton Key has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will be back with the Tide for his sophomore season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I spoke to coach Avery (Johnson) just over a week ago and informed him of my decision to withdraw my name from the NBA Draft and return to the University of Alabama for my sophomore season,” Key said in a statement. “I made that official when I sent my paperwork to the NBA league office Monday morning. I want to express my appreciation to my teammates, Coach Johnson and the entire coaching staff for giving me their full support while I went through this process.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a freshman. He gives Alabama four returning starts to pair with one of the country’s highest-regarded recruiting classes, headlined by five-star guard Collin Sexton. The Tide will also have an eligible Daniel Giddens, who previously transferred in from Ohio State.

Key didn’t seem likely to stay in the NBA draft, especially after he wasn’t invited to the combine, but his ultimate decision is a huge one for Avery Johnson as he looks to break through in his third season in Tuscaloosa with his first NCAA tournament appearance. 

Report: Justin Jackson to return to Maryland

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Maryland forward Justin Jackson is expected to return to school for his sophomore season, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

Jackson is an intriguing talent, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that shoots 44 percent from three. But he’s also still developing his offensive game and consistency on the defensive end of the floor, which is why he was projected as a second round pick in this year’s draft.

With Jackson back in the fold, Maryland is a borderline top 25 team. They lost Melo Trimble to the professional ranks, but that’s something that Mark Turgeon has prepared for. With a sophomore class that also includes highly-regarded point guard Anthony Cowan and sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter, the Terps have a promising season ahead of them.