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Center court with Herd guard Chris Martin

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, October 15, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 01:10

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 to pick up a basketball.

For as long as he can remember, Martin has spent much of his life developing his basketball game. It is no surprise the sophomore point guard is ready for the Marshall University basketball spotlight.

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

Before long, the Upper Marlboro, Md., native was traveling and playing in the Amateur Athletic Union at a time when most of his classmates were shooting basketballs in their driveways. Fascinated by the sport, Martin found himself playing with the DC Assault AAU team and earned national recognition by the time he was in his teens.

“It’s 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 he watched Washington Wizards games and said he enjoyed watching NBA stars Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison.

Entering high school Martin already had the interest of several NCAA Division I schools. Martin attended St. John’s College High School in Chevy Chase, Md., 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 Michael Kidd-Gilchrest and Derrick Gordon of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Gilchrest was this year’s second overall draft pick in the NBA.

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. Rivers is the son of Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers.

As a senior, Martin appeared in the HBO documentary “Prayer for a Perfect Season,” based on St. Patrick’s 2010-2011 season. Martin also participated in a three-point contest on CBS, finishing third. The McDonalds All-American nominee, awarded to the top high school talent in the nation, said it was a special senior year.

After high school, Martin decided to join the Thundering Herd and suit up in the Kelly green and white.

“I felt like it was a good fit for me,” Martin said. “This is a competitive conference and coach Herrion just made me feel like home before I made my decision to come here.”

Martin, a marketing major, is set to excel on the court, but when he has spare time he does a number of different things.

“I do a lot of reading and researching on basketball,” Martin said. “I look at weird stuff in the ocean. I watch Fresh Prince, study, go to class and the gym.”

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 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.

Head Coach Tom Herrion said 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 two experienced senior guards with 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.”

During the offseason Martin logged extensive hours in the gym, which he said improved his game.

“I worked on my ball handling skills,” Martin said. “In high school I had the reputation of being a shooter, and at my height I need to play point guard too. I just worked on some floor general skills, getting comfortable with my teammates and tightening up my defense.”

Coach Herrion said he recognizes the work Martin has put in.

“Chris Martin has had as good a spring to the start of practice anybody in our program,” Herrion said. “He has changed his body. He has worked at becoming a better point guard. He is a great shooter and I think he is confident right now.”

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