March 31, 2010

Bonner honored as Mid-Major Defensive All-American

2010 Mid-Major Defensive All-America team

BOSTON, Mass. -- Northern Colorado senior guard Yahosh Bonner was named late Tuesday night to this year's Mid-Major Defensive All-America team.

Bonner becomes the third member of the Bears basketball program to be tabbed by this season, joining head coach Tad Boyle (Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year) and fellow senior Will Figures (Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player).

Rather than assembling first-, second-, third- or fourth-teams, the Mid-Major Defensive All-America team is one squad consisting of 20 players. NCAA Division I coaches and NBA scouts are part of the selection process, but final decision rests with the staff.

"Yahosh is one of the best on-ball defenders I've ever had a chance to coach," Boyle said. "He evolved into a good scorer for us this season, too, but his defense has always been there since he got to Northern Colorado. This is a well-deserved honor for a great young man."

Bonner was honored in early March as the Big Sky Conference's Defensive Player of the Year, and he's the only Big Sky player recognized on this year's Defensive All-America team.

He started all 33 of Northern Colorado's games this season, and he finished with a career-high 5.9 points-per-game average while swiping 41 steals. He exhibited his shut-down capabilities in each of Northern Colorado's three victories in this year's Rainbow Classic during the first week of the season and was the rave of the ESPN2 announcers in the Bears' victory against Hawai'i and was awarded with the Classic MVP, linking him with previous such winners "Pistol" Pete Maravich, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner and Paul Pierce.

He continued that run through most of the season, limiting countless opponents to well-below-average performances, including the likes of Montana's Anthony Johnson, Idaho State's Amorrow Morgan, Weber State's Damian Lillard and Eastern Washington's Glen Dean. He also held Oklahoma star Willie Warren, who averaged 16.3 points per game this season, to just four points in the Bears' one-point loss in mid-December.

"As a coach, you hate to lose good seniors," Boyle said, "but I'm not sure how we're going to replace him. The stats don't wow you, but he always drew the opposing team's best player and always did a heck of a job for us.

"The best thing I can say about Yahosh is that we started the year out in Hawai'i in the Rainbow Classic, and he won the MVP of that tournament while averaging just eight points a game ... obviously he opened a lot of people's eyes this year with the way he's played on the defensive side of the ball."