Hell of a Week for a Hell of a Player

It’s happening.  The Bonz is well on his way to becoming a Notre Dame legend.

This week…just 60 points and 29 rebounds in huge wins over Wake Forest and Florida State.

Flat. Out. Stud.

In our 2015-16 season preview, prior to his sophomore season, I asked whether Bonz could turn into Luke Harangody.  Here’s some wisdom from November 2015:

The Bonz plays below the rim at 6’5, seems to always be around the ball, and once he grabs it has a variety of ways to score (certainly some unorthodox ways).  His freshman year reminded me of Luke Harangody’s:  it took a while to get in the rotation, but then became a major factor by the end of the year.  I truly think the Bonz can have a comparable career as the Gody, though maybe not as dominant, because he won’t need to be.

Last year though, Bonz struggled at times to fit into the offense with Auguste the main beneficiary of pick and rolls with DJ.  Of course, he had some stellar games, including the epic 31-point performance to lead the Irish to a win at Duke.  And if you don’t want to click on the article, here’s the relevant blurb:

But man, the Bonz was absolutely possessed yesterday.  His first seven rebounds were all on the offensive glass.  He was able to score at will over Brandon Ingram, and importantly, managed to get Ingram in foul trouble early in the 2nd half.  He even drained two triples, including one that led to a smirk and a few words toward the Duke bench.  What a fun player to watch, and I really hope we are witnessing the rise of one of the all-time ND greats.

But come tournament time, he saw his minutes decrease due to Brey inserting Farrell into the starting lineup.  He averaged only 8 points and 4.3 rebounds during last year’s run to the Elite Eight.

That brings us to his junior year.  When Brey announced before the season that he would be a captain with the two seniors, I hoped he’d take the next step.  Boy, has he ever.

  • 16 double doubles (9 out of 13 ACC games)
  • 16.7 PPG / 10.8 RPG on the season
  • 17.2 PPG / 11.5 RPG in ACC play
  • Finalist for the Wooden and Naismith Awards
  • ACC Player of the Week
  • National Player of the Week (@CBTonNBC, ncaa.com, Lute Olson)

Dickie V on Saturday:  “If that guy doesn’t make First Team All-ACC, there should be an investigation.”

Why stop there?  Why not ACC Player of the Year?  I think he’s right there with Luke Kennard (19.8 ppg), Dwayne Bacon (17.6 ppg), Donovan Mitchell (15 ppg / 5 rpg / 3 apg / 2 spg)  and Justin Jackson (18.7 ppg).  In fact, that has to be your All-ACC team at this stage.

Bonz reached the 1,000 point milestone on Saturday, with at least seven (and hopefully many more) games remaining this season.  He’s a near lock to get 100 more points this year, and should get 500-600 again next year.  Let’s give him 1,650 for his career…where would that put him on the list of Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorers?

14th.  Not so bad.

It’s ultimately unfair to expect Bonz to match the Gody’s numbers, the #2 all-time scorer in ND history.  But I wanted to get some input from the man who knows better than anyone, whether he sees any Gody in the Bonz.  Thanks to Jack Nolan for the assist here during this week’s Inside Notre Dame Basketball (watch it all, but go to the question at 14:00).

What’s clear is that Bonz is going to go down as an all-time great.  He’s flourishing in Brey’s small ball offense, and rebounds like a man six inches taller than he is.  He has an edge, a drive that makes him forget that he’s 6’5 when he’s battling in the paint.  And while he may not surpass the Gody in points, he certainly may surpass him as my favorite Irish player of all time.

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