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November 13, 2013

Brey seeks shooters

Sometimes the best thing a college basketball coach can do in recruiting is lean on contacts built through years building a successful system.

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey did just that in putting together a two-man recruiting haul in the Class of 2014. Four-star power forward/center Martin Geben and Rivals150 forward Bonzie Colson might not have ended up signing Wednesday otherwise.

“We really targeted frontline guys after recruiting what we thought was a very good perimeter and one frontline guy in the current freshman class,” Brey said. “But to come back and add these two guys, I’m really excited. Again, they’re great fits for us.”

Familiar faces first recommended the Irish staff check out Colson and Geben a couple years ago.

Pat Clatchey, who coached point guard Eric Atkins at Mount St. Joseph in Baltimore during high school, mentioned Geben to Brey a couple seasons ago. Longtime AAU presence Leo Papile, a scout for the Boston Celtics and the man in charge of Boston-based BABC, gave Notre Dame assistant Martin Ingelsby a call about Colson well before he turned into a breakout performer.

Notre Dame took those tips and went about their own due diligence, tracking both for months before the spring live period when they landed scholarship offers. Even then the job was far from done.

Neither visited campus until official visit season, offering quite a difference from the previous recruiting cycle. V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia signed with Notre Dame after being committed for more than a year.

“You felt really good about these guys,” Brey said. “Even in early August the vibes you’re getting back is we were in great position, we were the leader for them. But then that makes you nervous. You don’t want to screw it up. All you can do is screw it up. I would love to have a commitment before next September, before next Labor Day.

“But every year is kinda different. Any time we try to make this an exact science in recruiting it goes out the door.”

Brey now moves forward with one scholarship remaining potentially unused heading into next season after the graduation of Atkins, Garrick Sherman and Tom Knight.

It could carry over into recruiting the Class of 2015, a group that could grow to three total with Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton potentially coming off the books after the 2014-2015 season. Grant could also choose to forego his final year of eligibility in favor of playing professionally.

Either way, Brey plans to scour the transfer market this spring.

“I think you have an open mind to everything,” he said. “There’s always a senior that could emerge. That’s a longer shot in this day and time, but you never know. Russell Carter was a pretty good spring signee for us and had a heck of a career, so you’re always evaluating that. And we’ll get a bunch of calls on kids that are having great senior years probably.

“The transfer situation is certainly something to really evaluate this spring. I think the timing for a transfer in our program would be excellent to have a guy sit now and then you’ve got an old guy ready in a year.”

In terms of recruiting the high school level, several scholarship offers have already gone out in the current junior class.

Five guards/wing players are on the target list, headlined by five-star Luke Kennard. Four-star prospects Jalen Coleman and Donte Divincenzo have made unofficial visits. Four-star combo guard Rex Pflueger has talked about doing so.

Rivals150 small forward Matt Ryan holds an offer and has also visited, putting Notre Dame among his top choices. Five-star center Stephen Zimmerman also scored an offer in the spring.

“That’s something we’ve still kinda been debating,” Brey said. “What do you need? I still think we need some more frontline guys and a shooter. Obviously, we’ve done a lot with wing guys that can shoot the ball. A couple have been on our campus (unofficially), just a big-time shooter. Do we need another point guard? Vasturia and Jackson do a pretty good job handling the ball for us.

“But is that something we evaluate, do we need another point guard in the program given we’ll lose Eric and Jerian, two guys that can really handle the ball. But my focus has kinda been that big shooter and another frontline guy.”

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