Pops Mensah-Bonsu was signed as a free agent by the Dallas Mavericks on August 3, 2006.
Nana Papa Yaw Mensah-Bonsu, generally known as Pops is a British basketball player and former star at George Washington University of the Atlantic Ten Conference. He graduated St. Augustine Prep High School, in Richland, In the Ghanaian language Twi, Mensah-Bonsu's name means Chief (Nana) Father (Papa) Thursday Born (Yaw) Three (Mensah) Whale (Bonsu). In several interviews Mensah-Bonsu has intimated that his family earned its surname when an ancestor slayed a whale.
Mensah-Bonsu majored in psychology at the Washington, D.C. college, where he played power forward and center. He was second team all-conference in 2004-05 and averaged around 15 points per game for his career. He was best known for explosive dunks and became a favorite of ESPN SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt, who would often mention Mensah-Bonsu at the end of telecasts.
At George Washington, Mensah-Bonsu helped lead the Colonials to the 2005 NCAA Tournament, where they lost in the first round. The next season was more successful for Mensah-Bonsu and the Colonials, ending the regular season 26-1 and being ranked in the national top 10 for the first time in 50 years. However, he suffered a knee injury near the end of the regular season and did not return until the 2006 NCAA Tournament, where the injury lessened his production. The injury probably led to him not being drafted by an NBA team. GW lost to Duke University in the second round of the NCAA tournament after defeating University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Mensah-Bonsu signed a two-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks and played for the Fort Worth Flyers, the then NBDL affiliate of the Mavericks.
Mensah-Bonsu (the D-League's leading rebounder at the break with 11.1 per game) was elected to the first D-League All-Star game and the rookie dominated the proceedings with 30 points on 11-of-13 shooting and seven rebounds to earn the first D-League All-Star Game MVP Award.
He was called up by Dallas and saw action in 12 games averaging 2.4 points (11-17 FG, 7-18 FT) and 1.8 rebounds. Despite showing flashes, Pops was waived by the Mavs prior to the start of the 2007 training camp.
Leaving for Italy, he joined Benetton Treviso of the Italian "A" League where he averaged 8.3 points and 9.2 rebounds. When the Italian season ended, in the summer of 2008, Pops signed to play in Spain with DKV Joventut. He was released after two games, despite averaging 18.5 points per contest, because of a shoulder injury he sustained.
Bringing his game back to the U.S. for the 2008-2009 season, Pops signed with the Austin Toros who was the NBA D-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs. He, again, immediately made his impact felt averaging an impressive 26.6 points and 13.0 rebounds over eight games. The Spurs signed the 6'9 forward to a ten-day contract on February 25, 2009. He played in three games, averaging 5.0 points and 3.3 rebounds but was released by San Antoinio when the contract was up.
The Toronto Raptors signed Pops shortly thereafter and he finished the season in Canada seeing action in 19 games and posting career numbers of 5.1 ppg and 5.4 rpg. He was not resigned by Toronto and in January of 2010, he signed to play with Moscow of the Russian League.
There was to be one final taste of NBA life for Pops when he signed with New Orleans for the 2010-2011 campaign. He played in seven games, only averaging 0.3 points and 1.6 rebounds. Upon his release before the season ended, he again went overseas where he played for Asvel Velleurbanne of the French League.