As Maccabi Tel Aviv continues to rebuild its roster for the upcoming 2022/23 season, the puzzle is getting closer and closer to being complete.
One of the new yellow-and-blue pieces is Bonzie Colson, who has played the past number of years in Turkey and France while having featured in both the Basketball Champions League – where he won the 2021 Most Valuable Player award with Strasbourg – and in the EuroCup with Darussafaka.
Prior to his foray into European hoops, Colson played in the G-League and in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks.Last season with Pinar Karsiyaka the 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward averaged 14.2 points in continental play, and excelled in the Turkish league by dropping 16.9 points and collecting seven rebounds per game while shooting 39.4% from deep.
The 26-year-old arrives in Israel as someone whose peers describe as an incredible player and an even better person, a player who brings hard work and a big smile every day along with being a hustler who loves to win and wants to love badly.
With that in mind, The Jerusalem Post spoke to Maccabi Tel Aviv’s new forward right after he conducted his first-ever Skills Academy for children in the New Bedford, Massachusetts community.
“It turned out really well with 50-60 kids. We had two sessions in late June for ages 8-12 and then 13-18. We had a lot of kids there and we wanted to teach them the fundamentals of the game and what it takes to get to the next level. I’m the type of guy who always wants to give back to my community and it was something dear to my heart. So I decided to do a skills academy in a city that has supported me every second of the way and I am happy it went well.”
Colson had been a wanted man by Maccabi Tel Aviv for some time and while the union had been close to happening in the past this seemed to be the right time for him to arrive in the Holy Land.
“They have always been really interested in me over the past couple of years, but this was the right timing and it was right for both of us. It’s going to be a great step in my career and why not start playing in the Euroleague with Maccabi and with some of the best fans and success that they have had as well?”
“They have always been really interested in me over the past couple of years, but this was the right timing and it was right for both of us. It’s going to be a great step in my career and why not start playing in the Euroleague with Maccabi and with some of the best fans and success that they have had as well?”Bonzie Colson
While Colson has starred in the Champions League, the Euroleague is a step up as it is recognized as the second-best league in the world aside from the NBA.
“It is going to be a challenge, but every new job will have its challenges with ups and downs so you just have to grow from there and learn and get better. This being my first year I will be a sponge and take in all of the information as to what it takes to win and win the championship. I am going in there open-minded and will play how I play and try to learn and help win as many games as possible.”
One of Colson’s personal challenges will be to compensate against bigger players in the paint, which is something he feels that he can compensate for.
“I have always been a player who is position-less. You can put me at the 4 [power forward] and the 3 [small forward] and I have even played the 5 [center], especially in college. I have a lot of heart, so it doesn’t matter the position for me and I just want to go out there and play hard. I am a natural 3, but I am comfortable playing the 4 as well. I want to use my speed and my size to my advantage on both sides of the floor and it’s something that I have always tried to do and I’ve always been used to playing against guys taller than me.”
One of the players Colson has been compared to, especially in college, was Charles Barkley.
“I have heard that when I was playing in college and I was playing the 4 and I was an undersized 4. But I brought my heart to the team and brought the energy with great defensive plays and offensive plays as well and I was posting up. In college, I was a totally different player. I have heard that a lot, being an undersized player, but a lot of us have a lot of heart and you can’t teach heart. So we have to build off of what we know and the rest will follow suit.”
Colson feels that he will be able to fit in with ball-dominant guards in Lorenzo Brown and Wade Baldwin, along with Darrun Hilliard and Austin Hollins.
“I can fit in anywhere with them and we will have to feel out the chemistry. I can space the corner and make threes or drive and kick out for a three. That is the type of player I am, being kind of position-less. Whatever the coach needs me to be and what they need me to do I’ll go out there and do the best possible job.”
It’s been well over a decade since Oded Katash last coached Maccabi Tel Aviv and he has gained a tremendous amount of experience throughout the years,especially in the Israeli league, which is something that Colson is looking forward to.
“He’s a great coach, a legendary coach in Israel, and a player’s coach as well. I am excited to learn from him, to pick his brain and to go out there and show him what I can do.”
Last season in Champions League play, Colson drilled home a game-winning three-pointer for Karsiyaka over Hapoel Jerusalem as time expired to defeat the host Reds in dramatic fashion at the Pais Arena. Maccabi’s newest forward would be happy to be able to do that once again, but this time while wearing the yellow-and-blue.
“If we need that situation, I got it. That was a great game and there was a great atmosphere. If you need a clutch three, I can do that for sure.”