Top high school basketball prospects do a lot of traveling in the summer, but probably none had a travel schedule like Martin Geben had the last couple months.
“I know a lot of kids playing at a high level were busy, but his was a little different,” St. Maria Goretti (Hagerstown, Md.) head coach Amrit Rayfield said of the 2014 forward’s summer schedule.
“He had a great, great late spring all of the way through the end of the AAU summer. He’s been able to see a lot, do a lot, have a lot of experiences, a lot of successes and he’s gotten better.”
The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Geben returned to his native country to try out for the Under-19 Lithuania National Team in late-May. Geben made the squad and then participated in the FIBA U-19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.
Geben played in all nine games for the team, starting about half.
“He played solid minutes,” Rayfield said. “He was very efficient. He rebounded the ball like he does, made shots and did great things for them.
“They got stung pretty good by the U.S. team in the semifinal. I think the U.S. got them by about 40, but they bounced back the next day and beat Australia to win the bronze. He played well.”
Rayfield was pleased with Geben’s improvement from his sophomore year to his junior year at St. Maria Goretti and the experience of playing at the national level can only help further his growth.
“It’s a different mentality,” Rayfield said. “It means a lot more. You’re playing one game a day and maybe not every day, but the preparation is key.
“He learned a lot to help prepare him for the college situation where they’re doing scout and doing walkthroughs and the whole thing. We do it at the high school level, but now you’re talking about doing it against college basketball players from the U.S. and some very good international guys from other countries.”
The end of the World Championship was just the start of a dizzying several days for Geben.
“He finished up in the Czech Republic on Sunday, the 7th,” said Rayfield. “He flew to Lithuania on the 8th. He hopped on a plane from Lithuania and flew back to Dulles in D.C. on the 9th and then hopped on a bus the 10th to go to the Peach Jam.”
Geben’s Team Takeover played five games in three days – Thursday, Friday and Saturday - at the Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina.
“He came back on Sunday, played in a Big Shots event in D.C.,” said Rayfield. “The Takeover team won that and he was named MVP of the event. The next weekend, he flew to Vegas.”
Geben has also enjoyed a hectic few months on the recruiting trail. After adding Notre Dame, Maryland and Villanova to a list of offers that already included a host of mid-majors, Geben picked up offers from Cincinnati and Marquette just before leaving for Lithuania in May. Georgia Tech and Miami extended offers after he returned to the States.
There was a report earlier this summer that Geben had narrowed his list to Notre Dame, Villanova, Maryland and Virginia, but that was inaccurate, according to his coach.
“That was a false report,” said Rayfield. “He was asked the latest, biggest schools that had offered him. He came up with four and couldn’t remember the others and the guy assumed that was his final four.”
The report did cause a bit of a stir among some of Geben’s other contenders, wondering if they’d been eliminated.
“Martin had to do a lot of work with some coaches who saw that and he was scrambling to say he didn’t have a final list,” said Rayfield. “He has not narrowed down his list yet.
“He’s back in Lithuania until Aug. 25th, so he can finally spend some time with his family. I think when he returns, he’s probably going to have a good idea and let some schools know if they’re not on the list. The ones that are on the list, he’ll probably arrange some visits.”
Notre Dame is one school that will definitely be on that list.
“At this point, they’re the only official visit that he’s set up,” his coach said. “He’s going Labor Day weekend, the weekend of the 31st for the Temple game. His parents are going to make the trip over, so they’re excited.
“His mother’s never been to the country. It’s going to be her first trip to the U.S. She’s going to touch down in Chicago and get down and visit the Fighting Irish. They’re excited for a lot of different of reasons. I know the Notre Dame staff is excited to get him on campus for the first opportunity, first football weekend and excited to have the parents be able to work it out and get over here as well.”
Geben took an unofficial visit to Maryland before leaving for Lithuania and is trying to schedule an official visit to Virginia. If Geben is going to sign during basketball’s early signing period – Nov. 13th through Nov. 20th – he may not have the chance to use all five official visits.
“I don’t want to speak for him, but knowing the conversations we’ve had, it’s going to be pretty tough to find five weekends in the fall,” said Rayfield. “I think he’s going to try to make a decision by the early signing period.
“All of that is being discussed right now with his family. I really think it’s going to be tough for him at this point.”