The city looked old. That’s what Martin Geben remembers about Prague. The Gothic spires and Baroque cupolas and Renaissance sgraffito, everything looked simply ancient to the prep class of 2014 power forward.
Not that he had much time for exploration and tourism in the Czech Republic’s capital city. Geben was visiting with the Lithuanian under-19 national team, in town for the FIBA world championships. They woke up early, ate breakfast, watched scouting videos, attended a morning shootaround, reviewed the game plan, shot some more, ate lunch, rested and then played a game.
“Yeah, we didn’t have a whole lot of time between practices and games,” Geben said from crowded car bound for South Carolina.
He’s stateside now, back just in time for this week’s Peach Jam in Augusta, S.C., the nation’s premier AAU tournament, with local powerhouse Team Takeover. By now Geben, who immigrated to the United States from Lithuania in September 2011, has adjusted to the grind of road trips and constant travel and exhausting days jammed with games. But he packed differently for the Peach Jam trip. He packed his bronze medal from the world championships.
“My teammates don’t know yet,” he said. “I’ll show it to them later.”
Geben averaged 5.9 points and 5.1 rebounds over nine games and five starts for Lithuania, shooting 55.6 percent from the field. His best performance, a 12-point, nine-rebound outburst against Australia, came in the bronze medal game, a six-point overtime win. In limited minutes in a blowout loss to the United States the previous game, Geben had just two points and three rebounds.
Considered a stretch-four prototype with solid interior strength, the St. Maria Goretti rising senior has scholarship offers from 17 Division I programs, according to 247sports.com. The lengthy journey – he and his girlfriend counted down the days one by one on Twitter – afforded Geben a nice break from college recruitment, but he says he’s narrowed his list down to four: Maryland, Notre Dame, Villanova and Virginia, in no particular order.
He is an AAU teammate with one-third of Maryland’s current class of 2014, but Geben said guard Dion Wiley hasn’t been recruiting him too much.
“I guess we’re just focused on Takeover at that point,” he said. “It’s not really about college.”
Then again, Geben has been away for so long, between national team tryouts in Lithuania and the tournament itself.
“It was interesting to see how other world countries played basketball and how they do it,” Geben said. “It was a good experience playing against other teams. U.S. was the best country in the whole tournament. They were a spectacle themselves, that wasn’t a surprise. Serbia was a big surprise. They were a really good team, played really hard, really tough, made a bunch of shots from the outside. They surprised me.”
Geben knows plenty about surprises. The state’s sixth-best player in his class, according to 247sports, Geben watched his stock soar this summer, adding several power-conference offers to his growing list of mid-major suitors. Coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Bino Ranson are handling Geben’s recruitment for Maryland, which aims to round out its four-man class of 2014 with a post player.
Except Geben, at 6 feet 8 with a solid outside shooting touch, is unlike the team’s other interior targets, more lengthy, shot-blocking types like Goodluck Okonoboh, Trayvon Reed and Chinanu Onuaku. Geben, for contrast, blocked three shots in nine games during the U-19 tournament. But with Wiley, Melo Trimble and Jared Nickens already on board, Turgeon is clearly loading up on shooters. A bulky banger like Geben, who can also step outside the arc, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing entering Big Ten play in 2014-15.