Mike Brey and the Notre Dame basketball program are on the board with the recruiting class of 2014.
A source close to the situation confirmed that Maryland forward Martin Geben has offered his verbal pledge to the Irish, giving Notre Dame its first commitment in the Class of 2014.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pounder is a Lithuania native who attends St. Maria Goretti in Hagerstown, Md. He’s choosing the Irish over offers from programs like Virginia, Maryland, Villanova, Georgia Tech and Miami among several others.
He took an official visit to South Bend last weekend and was set to take an official to Virginia this weekend, but decided to bring the process to a close instead.
It’s a major pickup for Brey and the Irish who are focused on bringing in frontcourt players this cycle after loading up on perimeter guys in 2013.
Geben made major strides from his sophomore season to his junior season, going from honorable mention in the Baltimore Catholic League in the 2011-12 season to Player of the Year in 2012-13. It’s the same award that current Irish point guard Eric Atkins won his junior and senior seasons at Mount Saint Joseph High School.
Geben averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds as a junior.
“He’s improved so much in the last year,” St. Maria Goretti head coach Amrit Rayfield told Irish Sports Daily when Geben landed his Irish offer in April. “He’s increased his size. Fortunately for him, he’s grown about an inch, so he’s 6-9. He’s put on some weight, so he’s about 225, 230. He’s always been a very skilled kid. I think his toughness around the basket has improved; his ability to rebound at a high level, be able to defend multiple positions, he’s very mobile for his size, he runs the floor well, moves his feet well, he’s getting more explosive around the basket.
“He’s able to finish right around the rim now. When he got here, he was a typical European guy, where finishing around the rim was finger rolls and reverse layups. Now he’s learning to finish above the rim, which has helped him quite a bit.”
That progression has continued through the summer with Geben returning to his native country for a couple weeks to play with Lithuania U-19 National Team before hitting the AAU circuit again in the States.
Geben intends to sign with the Irish during November’s Early Signing Period. Notre Dame figures to have two more scholarships available for high school prospects this cycle with four main targets – Rhode Island forward Bonzie Colson, Arizona forward Michael Humphrey, Minnesota forward Reid Travis and five-star Virginia forward Devin Robinson – left on the board. Each of those prospects have official visits lined up to South Bend later this month.