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Notre Dame adds pair of forwards

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey had the perfect pitch when he was recruiting Martin Geben and Bonzie Colson Jr., who signed with the Irish on Wednesday.

Brey simply pointed to senior center Garrick Sherman and senior forward Tom Knight, and told the two high school forwards that Notre Dame needed to replace those two front-line players after this season.

"What we sold to all those front-line kids was we are losing Sherman and Knight. We are losing two fifth-year senior big guys," Brey said. "The only other big guys still in the program are (sophomore Zach) Auguste, (sophomore forward Austin) Burgett, who at that point hadn't proven anything, and (sophomore forward Eric) Katenda, who had just had tough luck with injury."

The Irish coach also had one other selling point for the 6-foot-9, 230-pound Geben and 6-6 Colson. Brey brought in a wealth of perimeter players in the previous recruiting class with Demetrius Jackson, Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem, a former New Haven standout.

"I said look down there at the guards, see those guards, you get to play with those guys," Brey said. "And that was a big selling point, too, the three freshman guards we have."

Geben is a four-star prospect, according to Rivals.com and Scout.com. He is from Vilnius Lithuania and has played two seasons at St. Maria Goretti in Hagerstown, Md.

Geben averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks last season and was named the Baltimore Catholic League player of the year. He enters his senior season with 965 career points, 653 rebounds and 157 blocks.

Geben also played for the Lithuanian national team in the U19 World Championships, averaging six points and five rebounds in the tournament.

"That can only help us and help him become a better player," Brey said of Geben's national team experience. "He's got something that no one else on our team has, playing in the Lithuanian national program. As we know, Lithuania has produced great basketball players. I remember on his visit I asked him, it is their No. 1 sport, I said, 'What's No. 2?' He said, 'We don't have a No. 2 sport.' It is nothing but hoops in Lithuania.

"What's exciting about Martin is he's 240 already. He's got a great body and strength on him already. And with the bodies similar to him that we are losing, Sherman and Knight, he becomes an important guy right away."

Colson is a three-star prospect, according to Rivals.com and Scout.com. He plays for St. Andrew's School in Barrington, R.I.

He averaged 17 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.5 blocks as a junior, and his father, Bonzie, Sr., starred at the University of Rhode Island.

Brey said the worst thing a person could do is put a position on Colson.

"Bonzie truly is a basketball player, and he's a beautiful basketball player," Brey said. "His feel for the game is much older than 18 years old.…

"He's one of those guys, and I will make a (former Notre Dame star and Mad Ant Luke) Harangody comparison, just in the ability to find the basket. He scores the ball in a lot of different places. He's undersized, but the body is interesting in that the wing span is long. He makes up for maybe 6-5, 6-6 in height with about a 7-foot wing span."

The Irish still have one more scholarship for this recruiting class, and Brey said he is open to many options, including looking at a transfer player after the season.

"The transfer situation is certainly to evaluate this spring," Brey said. "I think the timing for a transfer in our program would be excellent to have a guy sitting out, and then you have an old guy ready to go in a year.

"I still think you need some more front-line guys and a shooter. We've done a lot with wing guys who can shoot the ball, just a big-time shooter.

"Do we need another point guard? Vasturia and Jackson do a pretty good job handling the ball for us. That's something we evaluate, do we need another point guard in the program, given that we lose Eric (Atkins to graduation) and Jerian (Grant, who does have a year of eligibility remaining after not playing as a freshman), two guys that can really handle the ball. But my focus has been that big shooter and another front-line guy."

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