Eyeing incoming freshmen for Notre Dame men's basketball
With two fifth-year power forwards set to exhaust their college eligibility at season’s end, Notre Dame’s main need for the 2014 recruiting class was the frontcourt. That produced fall commitments and signings of two prospects – Bonzie Colson Jr., and Martin Geben – expected to challenge early for playing time now that Tom Knight and Garrick Sherman have moved on.
The deeper Notre Dame ventured through its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the more coach Mike Brey believed he needed another ball-handler for 2014-15. An abbreviated/accelerated recruitment delivered point guard Matt Farrell, whose journey to Notre Dame lasted all of about three weeks and resulted in a spring commitment and signing.
Following is a closer looks at each of the three signees set to enroll in summer school in June. Each also will be eligible to accompany Notre Dame on its foreign tour of Italy in early August.
BONZIE COLSON JR.
Particulars: 6-foot-5, 210 pounds.
Hometown: New Bedford, Mass.
High school: St. Andrew’s School (Barrington, R.I.).
Status: Having signed during the early period in mid-November, Colson committed to Notre Dame in early October shortly after returning home from an official visit to Florida State. He also considered Pittsburgh.
2013-14 season: Colson averaged 16.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.8 blocks and 1.0 assists in helping St. Andrews to a 26-5 record. He finished his prep career with 1,938 points and 1,162 rebounds. He had 23 double-doubles for points and rebounds as a senior, 46 for his career.
Recruiting resume: A two-time Rhode Island Gatorade player of the year, Colson is considered a four-star prospect by ESPN and a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout. He is not ranked in ESPN’s Top 100, ranked No. 145 among Rivals’ Top 150 and not ranked among Scout’s Top 100.
Notable: Colson’s father, also named Bonzie, played on the 1998 Rhode Island team that advanced to the Sweet 16 and also coached at Boston College under former Eagles coach Al Skinner. … Colson won 100 games during his prep career. … He scored 18 points with 15 rebounds in the 2014 Kentucky Derby Classic all-star game in Louisville.
His coach says: “He’s a winner. He’s used to winning. He’s just going to find ways to win games. We lost our semifinal playoff game this year because Bonzie didn’t get the ball. He became more well-rounded defensively this season and was able to defend on the perimeter. Offensively, he expanded his range beyond the 3-point line.”
St. Andrew’s School coach Michael Hart.
An opposing coach says: “He just doesn’t intimidate you at all when you look at him, kind of like (Brooklyn Nets veteran swingman) Paul Pierce. Like, ‘Who is this guy?’ and then he just goes out and kills you. I was talking with one of my assistants after a game against him and I said, “I’m glad Bonzie didn’t really hurt us.” He said, ‘Coach, he had 26 points and 18 rebounds.’ He’s very efficient. He’s freakishly athletic, way more athletic than he looks.
“I don’t know what (position) he is in college, but he’ll get rebounds and he’ll put the ball in the basket. He can do a lot of different things.”
Tabor (Mass.) Academy coach Chris Millette.
Particulars: 6-2, 170.
Position: Point guard.
Hometown: Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.
High school: Point Pleasant Beach.
Status: Farrell originally committed to Boston College last fall but never signed his letter of intent. Having re-opened his recruitment, Farrell committed to the Irish on March 11 and signed his national letter of intent in mid-April.
2013-14 season: Farrell averaged career highs for points (19.5), assists (5.9) and steals (3.9) with 3.8 rebounds his senior season. He shot 56.1 percent from the field, 44.2 percent from 3 and 84.2 percent from the foul line in helping the Garnet Gulls finish 29-2 and win its first Shore Conference championship in school history.
Recruiting resume: Farrell is considered a two-star prospect by ESPN and a three-star prospect by Rivals but not ranked among ESPN’s Top 100 or Rivals’ Top 150. He is not ranked by Scout.
Notable: Farrell averaged 13.1 points, 5.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.8 rebounds in 109 career prep games. … One of his brother’s closest friends is former Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick.
His coach says: “He came in as a skinny, underdeveloped freshman and he’s leaving the best player in our area. It’s been unbelievable. It all comes from hard work. You love it when you have a kid who takes his talent and adds hard work and reaches his potential.
“Matty was the best player in our league. He was the best point guard in our state. A lot of guys couldn’t compete like Matty competes. He’s such a competitive kid who’s got a great feel for the game. When we needed to score a bucket, he’d get us a bucket. If a kid was hot, he’d make sure to run a set to that kid’s side of the floor to get him a shot. If guys were struggling and we were down two, he’d look to score. He had a great feel for the moment.
“You’re going to enjoy watching him play the next four years.”
Point Beach coach Nick Catania.
An opposing coach says: “I’ve seen him for the last three years and his development has been unbelievable. He’s a very, very hard worker. You can tell he’s put in the time. The thing that’s most impressive about him is his ability and willingness to learn and develop as a point guard. This year, especially, he really controlled the game. He scored when he needed to score and he got his teammates involved.
“The game we played against him in the Shore Conference finals, the only reason we lost was because of him. He wound up with 25 points and I thought we played him very well. But anytime he was open, he just made the shot. He was just fun to watch.
“From what I’ve seen, I have no reservations about him (in the ACC), but it is one of the top two or three leagues in the country. One of the things with Matt is he works hard and has the game. He’ll work hard and figure out what he needs to do to play at that level.”
Christian Brothers Academy (N.J.) coach and former Rutgers guard Geoff Billet.
Particulars: 6-9, 230.
Position: Power forward.
Hometown: Vilinius, Lithuania.
High school: St. Maria Goretti, Hagerstown, Md.
Status: The first member of the recruiting class, Geben committed to Notre Dame in early September and signed during the early period in mid-November.
2013-14 season: Limited to 25 games because of injury, Geben averaged 13.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. He shot 55.1 percent from the field, 68.7 percent from the foul line.
Recruiting resume: Considered a three-star prospect by ESPN and Rivals and a four-star prospect by Scout, Geben is ranked No. 108 in Rivals’ Top 150 but not ranked in ESPN’s or Scout’s Top 100. He earned Baltimore Catholic League player of the year honors as a junior after averaging 17.0 points and 12.0 rebounds.
Notable: Geben missed the second half of his senior season after suffering a broken left (non-shooting) wrist during a game in mid-January. … He will be the fifth European to play for Notre Dame under coach Mike Brey – Eric Katenda (Paris), Ivan Kartelo and Jere Macura (Split, Croatia) and Tom Timmermans (Driehuis, Netherlands). … He played AAU basketball for Team Takeover, the same squad as Irish guard Jerian Grant.
His coach says: “We played a lot of stiff competition this year, and with his presence around the rim, he had something like 17 double-doubles (for points and rebounds) in the first 20 games before his injury. He was just a double-double machine. To do that that consistently, to score and rebound the ball, that’s why he was what he was and why he’s going where he’s going. He did it against everybody. Whatever they threw at him, he delivered.
“When he went down with his injury, we started talking about what he has to do to be prepared for the Atlantic Coast Conference. We tried to prepare him physically and mentally. It’s going to be a grind, but he’ll be up for that challenge. He knows what he’s going up against, and he’ll be prepared.”
St. Maria Goretti coach Amrit Rayfield.
An opposing coach says: “He’s a blue-collar rebounder and deceptive athletically. He competes. He has inside-outside skills and can put it on the floor. He’s got good size and has some strength. It was a shame he got hurt this season.”
Mount Saint Joseph (Md.) coach Pat Clatchey.