Jeremiah Bonsu was doubted at every level before becoming a player at Dayton

first_img Published on March 7, 2017 at 11:04 pm Contact Josh: [email protected] | @Schafer_44 UPDATED: March 8, 2017 at 11:20 a.m.A New Jersey Nets-Los Angeles Lakers game filled the television screen inside a Newark, New Jersey, home. As Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd exchanged baskets on the court, a young boy frantically scribbled down each player’s statistics in a small notebook.Unlike most grade-schoolers, Jeremiah Bonsu did not watch the game with his family. Instead, he sat alone in his basement to watch the game he loved.“Sports are highly competitive and not too many immigrants have been recognized in athletics,” George Adusei-Bonsu, his father, said. “So we didn’t want him to go that way. But we couldn’t stop him.”Raised by two immigrants from Ghana, Bonsu’s love for basketball was often misunderstood. His parents didn’t believe in the American views of sports. School came first, basketball second. But 15 years after the Nets game and despite his parents’ disapproval, Bonsu still plays basketball.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHis career started at Pickerington North (Ohio) High School, where he spent three years as a manager and one season as a varsity player. At Dayton he spent half a season as the team manager before earning his spot as a walk-on.Next to his name in the Dayton record books appears his only stat, two games played for Bonsu. the stats don’t tell his story, his journey does. Although he was doubted at every level, Bonsu’s love for basketball never wavered. Now, the player who registered only one point in high school basketball is finishing his third season at Dayton.“I always told myself that if I run out of time in high school or college,” Bonsu said, “I won’t be disappointed as long as I give 100 percent effort.”Pickerington rejected Bonsu three years in a row. The decision came down to a press-break drill. Bonsu missed an open 3-pointer in the drill while the last player to make the team sank the shot. Even though coaches did not add Bonsu to the roster, he remained a part of the program as a manager.He spent practices doling out waters and taking down statistics. Bonsu still found time for himself, spending the last hour shooting free throws. With no hoop of his own, Bonsu spent his time after practice shooting on a neighbor’s hoop. He began asking each time he used it. After weeks of consistent use, the neighbor kindly told him the courtesy was unnecessary, the hoop was his to use whenever needed. With no coaches to instruct him over the summer, Bonsu committed himself to a 20-minute Steve Nash skills video he found on YouTube each morning.Despite all of the work Bonsu put in, he was still cut three times. His frustration led to two meetings with a guidance counselor and his parents, and a hole in the wall that he punched in. But pushed by the rest of the team, he stayed with basketball. He joined the squad in his final year at Pickerington North and swished a lone free throw on his senior night for the only point of his career.In his first semester at Dayton, Bonsu spent most his time at the recreation center. While other students entered the gym for an escape from their academic responsibilities, Bonsu entered the gym to work. A few elbow and an active mouth prompted several altercations between Bonsu and opponents.“Whether it’s pick-up, one-on-one, whatever it is,” Bonsu said. “To me, it’s the most important thing at that moment.”Bonsu captured an intramural title in his freshman year at Dayton, an honor his teammates cherished. But Bonsu wanted more. He wanted a challenge. That’s when he met current teammate Joey Gruden.The two became inseparable at the gym. What started as simple one-on-one games led to 6 a.m. workouts. The duo didn’t lose a single game together the spring of their freshman year. At one point, they beat two Dayton walk-ons and knew that they were ready to try out themselves.“We fed off each other’s competiveness,” Gruden said. “I didn’t want him to outwork me and he didn’t want me to outwork him. We pushed each other to be better.”In the fall of 2014, Gruden made the Flyers team as a walk-on, Bonsu did not. Similar to his high school days, his shooting and dribbling were not up to par. As a manager, Bonsu brought his shoes to practice every day. He joined practice as a dummy-defender and listened in when the coaches gave pointers. Following practice, the then manager stayed for hours to practice what the players learned that day.After a few months of taking stats and shooting off feeds from a shooting machine, Bonsu got his chance. Several scholarship athletes were forced to leave for academic reasons and off-the-field issues. The team needed help.“I tried to make sure I was at every single event,” Bonsu said. “So, if they ever did need a walk-on, they would be like ‘Oh yea we know this kid.’”Initially Bonsu thought Bill Comar, the director of basketball operations, was approaching him about a mistake made a few nights before. Comar and the other managers had failed to sufficiently prepare for the visiting team in the prior home game. But Comar didn’t care about that. Instead, he offered Bonsu a position as a walk-on.A casual “yes” masked the excitement Bonsu felt.As a member of the team, Bonsu’s competitive edge remains his finest attribute. The senior walk-on has one of the loudest voices at practice. Whether he’s mimicking the shooter of that week’s Atlantic 10 opponent or challenging Gruden to one-on-one after practice, Bonsu’s mouth is constantly running. He’s even gone one-on-one with team captain Kyle Davis.“That’s part of who is and part of his relationship with the players,” said Dayton assistant coach Allen Griffin. “Then you have guys going out there that want to stop him and almost embarrass him.”In his lone minute of playing time this season Bonsu had a chance to score. Just like in the recreation center, Gruden drove down the lane. As defenders swarmed, the ball kicked out to Bonsu. But instead of taking the shot he’s practiced so many times, he passed. The nerves took over Bonsu in that moment, something he still regrets today.Bonsu might never get back on the court for Dayton. But the fact that he was even on the team was more than what nearly everybody expected.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, the reasons why athletes were forced to leave the Flyers were misstated. Several scholarship athletes were forced to leave for academic reasons and off-the-field issues. The Daily Orange regrets this error.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Bill Comar was misnamed. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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