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College basketball: ACC trio headlines list of top seniors across country

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Duke’s Grayson Allen answers a question during the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s NCAA college basketball media day in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

By Steve Megargee

AP Sports Writer

Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson’s deliberation over whether to turn pro or return for his senior year was never much of a debate.

“It was like a five-minute discussion,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “He knew he was a four-year guy. His family knew he was a four-year guy. I thought maybe he would at least want to go up to Chicago and test the waters. (He said), ‘Coach, (I’m) not into it.’ “

Even in an era when freshmen have an increasingly large role in college basketball, there still are plenty of four-year guys making an impact.

Kansas’ Frank Mason Jr. was named the AP player of the year as a senior last season. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield won the 2015-16 Naismith Trophy as the nation’s top player his senior season.

Colson says he knew it was the right decision for him to return for his senior year as well.

“I knew I had a lot of development on both sides of the floor that I needed to work on,” Colson said. “But obviously getting the degree from Notre Dame is what I went to Notre Dame for, and I knew I was a four-year guy.”

This list of top seniors heading into the 2017-18 season shows there are plenty of notable “four-year guys” in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year.

•••

GRAYSON ALLEN, DUKE, Guard, 6-5

As the only returning Duke player who averaged more than eight minutes last season, Allen provides some needed experience to the top-ranked Blue Devils’ freshman-laden roster. Allen averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists two years ago to earn AP All-America third-team honors . He had 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and a team-high 3.5 assists per game during a turbulent junior season in which he was stripped of his captaincy after getting caught tripping an opponent three times in a calendar year . Allen has regained that captain status this year .

•••

JOEL BERRY II, NORTH CAROLINA, Guard, 6-0

Berry was named the most outstanding player of the Final Four after scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists with only one turnover in the Tar Heels’ NCAA championship game victory over Gonzaga . He did all that despite playing the NCAA Tournament with a pair of sprained ankles. He has another injury that could cause him to miss the start of this season for the ninth-ranked Tar Heels. North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Berry broke a bone in his right hand punching a door after losing a video game . Berry is one of only seven players ever to score at least 20 points in two straight national championship games and one of only six North Carolina players ever to start in two national championship games.

•••

TREVON BLUIETT, XAVIER, Guard, 6-6

Big East coaches have given Bluiett first-team all-conference honors each of the last two seasons. Bluiett ranked second in the Big East in scoring (18.5) and 10th in rebounding (5.7) last season while also making 2.5 3-pointers per game. He averaged 21.3 points in four NCAA Tournament games to help Xavier advance to a regional final. Bluiett’s big tournament performance included a 29-point outburst in a victory over Florida State and a 25-point effort in a Sweet 16 upset of Arizona . He averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds two seasons ago. He’s back for his senior year to help No. 17 Xavier seek an elusive Final Four berth .

•••

BONZIE COLSON, NOTRE DAME, Forward,  6-6

Colson is the ACC preseason player of the year and the lone senior to make the AP All-America preseason team . Colson can score in a variety of different ways and has found a way to thrive in the paint for the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish despite his relative lack of height. Colson averaged a double-double last season while earning AP All-America third-team honors. He led the ACC in rebounding (10.1) and ranked ninth in the conference in scoring (17.8). He averaged 22.7 points in the ACC tournament and scored 27 points while shooting 10 of 15 in an NCAA Tournament loss to West Virginia .

•••

DEVONTE GRAHAM, KANSAS, Guard, 62

Graham heads into his final college season as the Big 12 preseason player of the year. The fourth-ranked Jayhawks will be relying on Graham to emerge as the leader of the backcourt as they replace Mason. Graham ranked 13th in the Big 12 in scoring (13.4), sixth in assists (4.1), second in 3-pointers (2.6) and ninth in steals (1.5) last season. He averaged 11.3 points and 3.7 assists two seasons ago and was named the most outstanding player of that year’s Big 12 tournament.

•••

YANTE MATEN, GEORGIA, Forward, 6-8

Maten ranked fourth in the SEC in scoring (18.2), ninth in rebounding (6.8), ninth in blocks (1.5) and second in field-goal percentage (.519) last season. That followed a sophomore year in which he ranked ninth in the SEC in scoring (16.5) and sixth in rebounding (8.0). Maten heads into his senior year trying to earn the NCAA Tournament berth that has eluded Georgia the last two seasons. He was named the Southeastern Conference’s preseason co-player of the year along with Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. and Texas A&M sophomore Robert Williams.

___

More AP College Basketball:

http://collegebasketball.ap.org/salisburypost/

http://collegebasketball.ap.org/salisburypost/poll/

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