Given his production rate and overall value, few players in college basketball were more important than Bonzie Colson this past season. He was a top-15 player in America, a guy who helped Notre Dame to a No. 5 seed, 26 wins and wound up becoming an Third Team All-American here at CBS Sports, in addition to being a Third Team selectee with the Associated Press.

On Monday, Mike Brey’s program got the boost it needed heading into next season: Colson announced he wouldn’t tinker with the draft process. He’ll return for his senior season. A good thing for college hoops, a great thing for Fighting Irish fans. 

This means Colson (who averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds last season) should almost certainly be a preseason First Team All-America selection. It also means Notre Dame will set up as one of the 15 best teams in college basketball 2017-18. Brey loves the adage “get old, and stay old” and he’s done that here — again. 

“After a lot of discussion with my family and Coach (Mike) Brey about possibly entering the NBA Draft this season, I have decided to pursue my dream of earning a degree from the University of Notre Dame and return for my final year of eligibility,” Colson said. 

“I promised myself and my family when I committed to Notre Dame that I would earn a degree from the University and help lead the program to new heights. Returning to play another season with my brothers and the possibility of hanging more banners in Purcell Pavilion and establishing ourselves as one of the best teams in program history is an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Few teams were counting on, and get such a boost from, a decision like this one. The Fighting Irish still would’ve been set up to be good enough to make an NCAA Tournament run without him, but Colson coming back gives this squad realistic/hopeful goals of being good enough to go to the Final Four. 

Remember, Colson had 27 points in that elimination game against West Virginia in the second round. He was not the reason ND bowed out in the first weekend. He averaged a double-double, and basically the closest thing college basketball has seen to a Draymond Green-type since Green was at Michigan State

Also returning to Notre Dame next season: Matt Farrell, Rex Pflueger and Temple Gibbs. Losing Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem will be tough, but few programs have been able to sustain veteran departures in the past decade the way this one has. It’s why we slot Notre Dame at No. 14 in our Way Too Early Top 25 (and one)