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Team captain, Thomas Bonacum, enjoying individual and team success at Ramapo

A hungry team captain, Thomas Bonacum relishing leadership role on and off the court for nationally ranked Ramapo College Roadrunners.

Thomas Bonacum, No. 3 (Photo by Jonathan Izquierdo - Double G Media)

Thomas Bonacum, No. 3 (Photo by Jonathan Izquierdo – Double G Media)

Ramapo College Roadrunners junior forward Thomas Bonacum’s dream was always to play college basketball. A Fanwood, New Jersey native, Bonacum attended Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School where he earned All-Union County and All-Conference Honors.

“I had looks from Division II and III schools but felt I wanted to play all four years and I know I wasn’t ready to play Division II,” Bonacum told Double G Sports. “My parents’ are my backbone and most supportive people who said don’t worry about getting a scholarship, we will help you pay for school and go where the best spot is.”

“Coach (Chuck McBreen) recruited and rest of coaching staff,” he continued. “I fell in love with the school, put my trust in the coaches and felt that connection with them. A tough decision but ended up being the best I made in my whole life and really helped reach this point.”

On playing for Head Coach Chuck McBreen, “Coach is great, he loves and cares about all of us. He tries to get the best out of us and is very passionate about the sport and wants to win. The fiercest competitor I have ever met and a lot of people think he goes very hard at us but he gets the best out of us and a lot of times we deserve it.”

There were growing pains for Bonacum during his freshman year in 2013-14 as an injury limited him to just seven games. After taking a redshirt, he came back stronger in 2014-15, averaging 10.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while earning NJAC Men’s Basketball Rookie Of The Year.

“Freshman year was very shaky for us as the team was coming off a championship year, I got injured and redshirted,” said Bonacum. “It helped me extend my career and we started four freshman with one of the youngest teams’ in the league. We did show glimpses we could play with anyone.”

Last season, Bonacum and the rest of the team continued their upward swing as he started all 21 games, leading the Roadrunners in scoring at 18.8 points per game and second on the team with 6.8 rebounds per game. Bonacum was named NJAC First-Team All Conference and to the All-Met Writer’s Team. Ramapo finished with a record of 16-10 and made it to the NJAC playoffs.

This season, the Roadrunners are off to their best start in school history at 20-2, 13-2 in the NJAC and ranked No. 7 in the Top 25 poll. Ramapo set a school record winning their first 14 games. Bonacum is enjoying another impressive season averaging 17.9 points per game, along with 6.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals. Back on January 25 against Montclair State, Bonacum added another personal achievement – tallying his 1,000th career point.

“Getting the 20th was huge for us and we all came in together this season setting that goal,” Bonacum explained. “We know that being a top 10 team in the country that every team plays against us is their biggest game of the year. It’s a benefit coming down the road that we have to match everybody’s energy and effort level. We had our ups and downs our entire careers and been on that other side.”

On scoring his 1000th career point against Montclair State, Bonacum added, “My dad wasn’t supposed to be at the game and on a business trip but left early and flew in. At halftime I looked up to the stands as I always do and saw him and that relaxed me. I struggled in the first half but knew in the second half I would get the open looks and shots were going to fall. A huge honor to do it in front of the home crowd and dream come true. I’m not really one that looks at individual accomplishments but the team.”

Majoring in Business Management, Bonacum appreciates the support around campus.

“The President and Board of Trustees attended the Montclair State game and fall athletes were recognized,” he said. “We’re feeding off the success of the baseball team last year and we’re there to support them and this year the volleyball team. The more success you have, the more fans will come out.”

Bonacum shoulders another responsibility on the team as the captain. “It means the world to me and leading a group of guys that I care about and they care about me in return. I couldn’t be prouder of them and thankful to have them. A lot of my personal success is due to them and I owe them everything. Being the vocal leader and trying to get everyone to focus all year.”

The Roadrunners will return most of their starters next year with only three seniors on this year’s squad but Bonacum’s main focus is on the present and points to the core and bench as main strengths.

“With the starting five we all play for each other and don’t care who gets the fame and bigger game. If teams’ defend one of us better, we trust each other to make the right play and teams’ have to focus on five different players and opens up the floor for us.”

“Our bench has been absolutely huge for us and we can afford to have someone have a bad game and a bench player come in and step up for us. It’s almost like having six, seven or eight starters. These guys could be starting on other teams. A very deep team and helped us get us to where we are today. They have kept the starters fresh and helped out in practice by getting majority of reps.”

“Lavrone (Green) came from Montclair State where he averaged 15 a game as a freshman in the conference. Pat (Peterson is an unbelievable player with high basketball IQ and makes tough shots. Cory (Soanes) is probably the best athlete in the conference and energizer bunny off the bench. Even (Nick) Stanek is a hustle player and so physical.”

Bonacum is definitely relishing in the team’s success and motto and pitch to his teammates is, “One Game At A Time.”

“With a core group we added a few pieces in Sultan (Aminu) and Pat (Peterson). We came in from the beginning off in September and started conditioning and individual workouts and never saw so many guys come in and put the work in before coaches help out. We wanted redemption from last year and everyone wanted to win this year.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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