NOTRE DAME, Ind. University of Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey had a very simple recruiting plan for 2013. With considerable perimeter depth in hand for the next couple of years, Brey and his staff had just one focus — frontline players.
The 14-year Irish mentor announced the signing today of two frontcourt players to his 2014-15 roster. Bonzie Colson, Jr., a 6-6, 200-pound forward out of New Bedford, Mass., and Martin Geben, a 6-9, 230-pound forward from Vilnius, Lithuania., have signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period on Wednesday morning (Nov. 13.). The duo will enroll at Notre Dame in the fall of 2014.
“We really focused on frontline players in this year’s recruiting class,” Brey says. “We felt that we were in good shape with our perimeter depth. With Tom Knight and Garrick Sherman leaving the program after this season, this was our focus.
“I am thrilled that Bonzie Colson and Martin Geben will be joining our basketball program and family. They are in line with the type of frontline players that we consistently recruit here at Notre Dame. They have a high basketball IQ, are really good with the basketball and just know how to play the game.”
Colson, a power forward has led his prep team, St. Andrew’s School in Barrington, R.I., to a 73-26 (.737) record during his three seasons. As a junior in 2012-13, he averaged 17.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots while leading his team to a 24-9 record. His squad advanced to the New England finals and lost a 61-60 heartbreaker in the championship tilt on a 45-foot bank shot at the buzzer. His previous two teams had earned appearances in the New England semifinals after compiling a 25-9 mark in 2010-11 and 24-8 record in 2011-12.
“Bonzie was the most efficient offensive player throughout the Nike EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) circuit that started last spring and ran all the way through Aug. 1,” Brey says. “He’s an undersized frontline guy who is deceiving because he has a wingspan of about seven feet. Bonzie plays bigger than he actually is. He has a great feel for the game and can score the ball; he certainly knows how to find the net.
A first-team all-New England selection as a junior and third team honoree as a sophomore, Colson enters his final scholastic campaign with 1,310 points, 810 rebounds and 201 blocked shots. He also has 32 career doubles-doubles to his credit and plays AAU ball for the Boston Amateur Basketball Club (BABC).
“Bonzie is very similar to a Luke Harangody in the way he scores the basketball,” Brey says. “He is good inside, can shoot the basketball and passes really well. His length really helps him as a rebounder. As far as knowing how to play the game on the offensive end of the floor, he plays like a much older player.”
Colson hails from a basketball family. His father, Bonzie, Sr., starred at the University of Rhode Island and is a 1990 graduate of the school. The elder Colson was a four-year starting center and the Rams’ career leader in blocked shots. During the 1987-88 campaign, he helped lead Rhode Island to a school-best 28-7 record and an appearance in the Sweet 16. Colson, Sr., also spent time as an assistant coach on the George Washington and Boston College coaching staffs. He also graduated from Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.
“Bonzie (Jr.) has grown up around locker rooms and the dinner table talk was all about basketball,” Brey says. “It’s no surprise that this young man is a basketball junkie and that he has a great feel for the game because it is kind of the family business in the Colson household.”
Geben, a forward, currently attends St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown, Md. He will be the fifth European player to attend Notre Dame and play under Brey. The four other players have been Ivan Kartelo (Split, Croatia), Jere Macura (Split, Croatia), Tom Timmermans (Driehuis, Netherlands) and current Irish sophomore Eric Katenda (Paris, France).
Geben has played two seasons at St. Maria Goretti and has been key in the team’s improvement over those two campaigns. In his first season with the program, his squad finished 19-13 in ’11-’12 after finishing just 8-24 the previous season. As a junior, Geben averaged 17.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots while shooting 60.0 percent from the field and 76.0 percent from the charity stripe.
“Martin Geben is a flat-out great fit for our program,” Brey says. “With us losing Tom (Knight) and Garrick (Sherman), there is a big need for Martin’s size and strength right away. He’s a physical kid who plays hard and fits in well with our program. He can shoot the 15 to 18-footer really well and is just a really physical force.”
In ’12-’13, Geben was the Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year and also earned similar accolades from the Herald Mail as he led his team to a 21-13 record. Geben copped top rebounder and best defensive player awards at the Mid Atlantic Invitational Tournament and also was named to the all-tournament team. He also earned first-team Independent Parochial School League honors.
As a sophomore in 2011-12, he averaged 13.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots while garnering Baltimore Catholic League honorable mention honors. In addition, he was MVP of the Mid Atlantic Invitational Tournament.
Geben heads into his final campaign with 965 career points (15.0 ppg.), 653 rebounds (10.0 rpg.) and 157 blocked shots. He also has converted on 61.0 percent of his field goal attempts.
“What I am most impressed about with Martin watching him on the summer circuit was the pride he takes in playing post defense,” Brey says. “He took more charges this summer than anyone else I saw. He’s a very good passer and screener. Martin is a big who knows how to play and that’s been the hallmark of the frontline players who have played in our program. He’ll fit in well with our perimeter players because he has a real feel for the game.”
A member of Team Takeover, he was Most Valuable Player of the Big Shots/DC Dual this past summer. Geben also is part of the Lithuanian national program. He averaged 6.0 points and 5.0 rebounds playing for the Lithuanian National Team at the U19 World Championships.
“The great advantage for us and for Martin is that he is part of the Lithuanian national program,” Brey says. “During the offseason, he’ll be with us and a tradition-rich national program. Lithuania has very good basketball. Martin gets to play in that program as well as major college basketball. This is going to be huge for his development.
“Martin is out of the mold of a Euro-big guy. He is good with the ball and can face the basket as well as shoot and pass it. I love his physicality. As a freshman, he’ll be physically ready to play and compete in the ACC.”