Notre Dame basketball: Irish get a front court player for 2014 class

South Bend Tribune

Confusion to start the day gave way to clarity for high school senior Martin Geben.

When his mind finally cleared away the recruiting clutter, the 6-foot-9, 225-pound Geben became the first player to verbally commit to the Notre Dame men's basketball team for the 2014 season.

Geben, who planned to visit Virginia this weekend after a Labor Day weekend tour of Notre Dame, is the first prep prospect to commit to Notre Dame since it officially joined the Atlantic Coast Conference on July 1.

He will sign his national letter of intent in mid-November.

“I just didn't feel like waiting and I wanted to make the decision,” Geben said by phone Friday afternoon. “It's been a crazy week.”

A native of Lithuania, Geben averaged 16.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks as a junior for St. Maria Goretti School in Hagerstown, Md. That effort earned him most valuable player honors in the Baltimore Catholic League. Considered a four-star recruit by and, Geben has grown two inches and added 40 pounds to his frame since he started high school.

Just after noon Friday, Geben's high school coach, Amrit Mayfield, told the Tribune that his standout post player was all sorts of confused with the recruiting process. A commitment still could be at least a week away. Geben wanted to see Virginia this weekend, but when the Cavaliers received a commitment from another high school senior earlier this week, that visit was canceled. Although Geben planned to see only two schools - — Notre Dame and Virginia — Mayfield insisted that others such as Dayton and Georgia Tech and Villanova were interested in bringing Geben to campus “tomorrow” if he showed the slightest interest.

Geben had interest in only one school — Notre Dame.

“It was just such a cool experience,” he said of his visit to South Bend. “I felt comfortable with everything about the school. The visit just went great.”

As great as the visit was, Geben still had a choice — continue the recruiting process by exploring other options that were once on his 20-school wish list or end the recruiting process and commit to Notre Dame.

He chose to end the suspense, but that didn't end the recruiting attention. Geben called Irish coach Mike Brey around 3:30 Friday afternoon, after which his phone blew up with an avalanche of text messages and phone calls.

“Before 3:30, it was a nice, calm day,” Geben said.

Geben is the only current high school senior to officially visit Notre Dame. He did so last weekend with his parents, who made the flight over from their native Lithuania. While Geben was on campus, Brey compared him to former Irish power forwards Jack Cooley and Luke Harangody.

“That,” Geben said, “was pretty cool.”

Like Geben, who was not rated among the nation's top 100 after the July evaluation period - — he has since jumped to No. 85 on - — Cooley and Harangody also were lightly-recruited out of high school by major power-conference schools. Both then became low-post cornerstones, 1,000-point career scorers and first team All-Big East selections in college.

Brey is prohibited under NCAA recruiting regulations from commenting on Geben until national signing day. His commitment leaves Notre Dame with two scholarships to offer current high school seniors.

Brey made it no secret that after signing a stable of perimeter players highlighted by McDonald's All-American and former Marian High School standout Demetrius Jackson last November, that big men were a priority of this recruiting cycle. Now he has one.

Following a hectic few hours Friday, Geben had a simple plan for the rest of his day.

“I need some sleep,” he said.

High school senior Martin Geben, a 6-foot-9 front court player, has become the first player to verbally commit to the Irish 2014 class. Photo provided