Courtside

Your Guide to GW sports

Friday, July 13, 2012 5:27 p.m.

Washington Post: Pops Mensah-Bonsu seeks to bring British national team to new heights

Pops Mensah-Bonsu, colonials invasion

Former men's basketball forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu laughs as he is announced as one of the judges for last year's Colonials Invasion dunk contest. Hatchet File Photo

Former GW basketball standout Pops Mensah-Bonsu told The Washington Post he wants to push the British national basketball team to new heights, like he did the University’s marquee athletics program.

Mensah-Bonsu, a member of the British men’s basketball Olympic squad, joins a team ranked No. 43 in FIBA’s world rankings that’s making just its second Olympics appearance. The Post reports that, as in the program’s one other appearance in the 1948 Olympics, the British men’s basketball team’s berth in the London Olympics “is a courtesy reservation for the host nation.” But Menash-Bonsu isn’t deterred.

“I think we hold the destiny of our sport in our hands,” Mensah-Bonsu told The Post. “To compete at a high level and play well, I think is going to reach out to some of the young generation and build up our grass roots. Then we can go from there.”

It’s an attitude Mensah-Bonsu also brought to the sidelines of the Smith Center. He joined GW in 2002, after the Colonials saw a first-round exit in the Atlantic 10 tournament the season before – sound familiar? – and a 12-win season.

By the time Mensah-Bonsu, a fan favorite with energetic performances and high-flying dunks, graduated, he’d helped engineer a program turn-around. His senior season, the Colonials earned their highest ranking since 1955 in the Associated Press poll, at No. 6, and its highest-ever seeding in the NCAA tournament, at No. 8.

“I came into GW one way and we left a totally different direction,” Mensah-Bonsu said. “I felt I grew in those four years as a player and a person and we created some sort of tradition there. Hopefully we gave the next teams something to work towards and showed them what could be accomplished.”