Bolden Brace, who led Santa Barbara High’s boys basketball team to a CIF-SS championship in 2015 and went on to become a key player at Northeastern University in Boston for four years, signed to play professionally in The Netherlands with the club Den Helder Suns.
The Suns are entering their fourth season in the Dutch Basketball League, the highest level of basketball in the country.
“I am very excited to start my career abroad and am grateful for this opportunity,” Brace said on the translated Den Helder Suns website. “There are many people who have helped me. In particular, I would like to thank my family, the coaching staff at Northeastern University and my girlfriend for their support. Although I would like to learn more about Dutch history and culture, the focus is on Den Helder Suns. I will give everything to be successful with the team.”
The 6-foot-5 Brace is a do-it-all player. In his senior season at Northeastern, he averaged 10.5 points, shooting 55.2 percent from the floor, 38.8 percent on three-pointers and 81.2 percent from the free-throw line. He averaged 6.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals.
He finished his career No. 4 all-time in program history in 3-pointers made (230), No. 8 in free throw percentage (.809) and No. 23 in total points (1,178).
In his freshman season, he scored a career-high 40 points and set a new single-game school record with 10 3-pointers at Elon, joining Reggie Lewis (41) and J.J. Barea (41) as the lone 40-point scorers in Northeastern history while producing just the 18th-ever 40-point game in CAA history, and just the eighth during conference play.
HIGHLIGHTS OF BRACE AT NORTHEASTERN
When he led Santa Barbara High to the CIF-SS 2A Division title — the school’s first since 1991 — and a 32-2 record, Brace averaged 20.4 points, 7.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds. He was named the division’s Player of the Year.
He was brilliant in an 84-69 quarterfinal win over Lawndale, knocking down six three-pointers in the first quarter and finished with 29 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Suns coach Peter van Noord said he’s been watching Brace play for quite some time.
“I’ve known Bolden for a while and followed his American college program,” van Noord told the club website. “He is a very fundamental team player who is very complete and smart.”
Van Noord said contract negotiations with Brace started slow because of the pandemic. But he made sure to keep in touch with the Santa Barbara native.
“My first contact with Bolden dates back to the beginning of May,” he said. “By keeping the contact warm, he kept abreast of the developments at the Suns. The puzzle was recently completed.”
Brace joins past Santa Barbara boys basketball stars Taylor Rochestie and Roberto Nelson to play professionally in Europe.
Rochestie has played in 10 countries and is currently with Olimpiacos in Greece.
Last month, Santa Barbara High alum, CIF Player of the Year and University of Washington star, Amber Melgoza, signed a professional contract with Polisportiva Battipagliese of Italy.
The Dutch city of Den Helder is located at the tip of a lowland peninsula that juts out into the North Sea. It is the sunniest city in the Netherlands.
The Suns basketball club was started in 2016 after the previous professional team, BV Den Helder, went bankrupt during the 2013-14 season.
In their first season, the Suns finished eighth in a nine-team league. They came in fifth and lost in the quarterfinals of the playoffs in 2018-19. They were in seventh place when this past season was stopped by the pandemic.
The 2020-21 season is scheduled to start in September.
— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.