A blend of wistful nostalgia and fiscal gloom keeps many parents from fully celebrating their child’s ascendance into the world of higher academia. Richard and Laura Bonton, however, are a different story, and they have a reason to party.
The couple’s son, Isaac, has received a full-ride scholarship to Montana State University based on his sparkling potential that flirts with a career in professional basketball. Bonton, 18, who has signed his letter of intent to attend MSU and join the Bobcats, was lauded with a small ceremony at Parkrose High School where family and friends mingled with Parkrose faculty and offered congratulations. Like Isaac’s parents, MSU also has much to be thankful for: As the Broncos’ nearly unstoppable point guard, Bonton was a large part of the reason the Broncos made it to the state tournament for the first time in 20 years.
Still, as expected, the ceremony was most meaningful to Isaac’s parents.
“I saw his mom crying,” says Richard Bonton. “It made me feel warm inside. I don’t show a whole bunch of emotion all the time, but I can say there are things I dreamed of for him, and to see those things happen is emotional.”
And despite the enthusiasm exhibited by Parkrose High staff, Parkrose itself was not always in the cards for Isaac. The Bontons were originally opposed to sending their son to a public school, yet Bonton transitioned over to Parkrose after his freshman year at Columbia Christian. Ironically, Bonton was dedicated to transferring to Jefferson High for their competitive sports programs.
Fortunately for Parkrose and its basketball team, due to restrictive neighborhood parameters, Jefferson never became a reality. And while district rules explain Bonton’s enrollment at Parkrose, Parkrose doesn’t explain Bonton’s passion for shooting hoops.
“I realized that basketball was what I wanted to do for a living in fifth grade,” explains Isaac. “It was something I was always around, since my parents both played in college and my brother grew up playing. I still have a piece of paper from July 15, 2007, on my wall that says, ‘I will make it to the NBA,’ along with my signature.”
The origins of the MSU scholarship itself are attributed to a little help from a friend. As it turns out, Isaac was offered a spot in the Big Sky League when he was still in eighth grade. Brandon Lincoln, a former employee of the Beaverton Hoop YMCA, spotted Isaac and recognized his potential early on. Lincoln later went on to become the assistant coach at Montana State, giving him the authority to recruit Bonton.
“[Brandon] felt like Isaac was probably going to keep getting better,” adds Richard Bonton. “And he did.”
But how did Isaac get so talented? The traditional components of dedication and desire are not amiss, but his father specifically put him to task by encouraging him to wear strengthening bands, practice running resistance exercises and leg drills and attend statewide tournaments from a young age. A frequent tourist in Salem, Isaac got a sampling of what it feels like to play with the best of the best by participating in several youth tournaments.
As for his followers, Isaac has an encouraging message upon reflection of his exhaustive journey thus far:
“Hard work can’t be denied,” says Isaac. “I know if I work harder than anyone else around me, in due time, I will come out on top. And I’m excited about going to school at MSU; the talent there will really be surprising to a lot of people, I’m sure.”