Thursday, September 27, 2012

Center court with Herd guard Chris Martin

Most 8-year-old boys are making a ruckus during third grade recess or riding their bicycles around the neighborhood. Others are locked in their rooms playing video games and watching the newest cartoons. Chris Martin on the other hand chose a different path.
Martin is entering his sophomore season with Marshall University men’s basketball program. Rewind 11 years and the young Martin is sitting in an elementary school classroom starring at a chalkboard. It is during this time Martin said he started to pick up a basketball.

“I was 8-years-old when I started playing competitively and going to AAU tournaments,” Martin said.

Martin, an Upper Marlboro, MD, native, was traveling and playing in the Amateur Athletic Union at a time when most of his classmates were shooting a basketball around in their driveway. Fascinated by the sport, Martin soon began playing with the DC Assault AAU team and said it was a good way to get recognized nationally at a young age.

“Its competitive,” Martin said. “You get your name out there and play against the top talent in the country. I had a great time on DC Assault.”

Growing up the D.C. native frequently watched Washington Wizards games and said he enjoyed watching Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison.

Entering high school Martin already had the interest of several division one colleges. Martin attended St. John’s College High School in Chevy Chase, D.C., for his first three years before transferring his senior year to St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J. Martin said transferring high schools was a decision based on family and opportunity.

“I have a lot of family in the New York area,” Martin said. “I just felt like the opportunity at St. Patrick was something I just couldn’t pass up. I had a great senior year.”

While at St. Patrick High School, the 6 foot 185 pound point guard, played with former Kentucky guard, and the second overall draft pick in 2012 NBA draft, in Michael Kidd-Gilchrest and Derrick Gordon of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“That is one of my best friends (Gordon),”Martin said. “He is like one of my brothers.”

While at St. Patrick Martin played against Austin Rivers who played at Duke University and was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in the 2012 NBA draft and is also the son of Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers. Martin was in a documentary and also shot in a three-point contest on CBS. Martin said it was a special senior year.

Martin has worn several different numbers throughout his basketball career before settling on the number zero at Marshall. At St. John’s Martin wore the number 11.

“I liked 11 because I looked up to John Wall coming out of high school and he wore it at Kentucky,” Martin said.

At St. Patrick Martin wore number 23 because a teammate of his was already wearing number 11. Martin chose to wear the number zero when he joined the Herd program.

“I grew up watching Gilbert Arenas,” Martin said. “I chose zero when I got to college because I love Arenas’ game.”

Whatever the number is Martin has produced both on and off the court. This season Martin said he is ready and motivated to show Marshall fans his potential.

“I didn’t really play that much last year, so I am just excited to show the fans what I can do,” Martin said. “I feel real excited this year.”

Head Coach Tom Herrion said that Martin played big when he had opportunities last season.

“The limited minutes that he played he had some big moments for us,” Herrion said. “We believe in Chris. He has made a lot of good strides.”

The 2011 men’s basketball team featured to experienced senior guards in Damier Pitts and Shaquille Johnson. Martin said he was able to learn from the two seniors in his freshman year, especially when it came to defense.

“Defense is so important on this level and I had to tighten up my defense going against them (Pitts and Johnson) everyday in practice. They were kicking my butt when I first got here,” said Martin with a chuckle. “I got a little stronger and better and was competing with them everyday.”

Martin said he learned a lot from his freshman year and is ready for the season to begin. A standout player everywhere he has been, Martin is looking to make a name for himself in a Thundering Herd uniform.

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