Martin makes collegiate debut against Auburn

Published 11:29 am Friday, November 3, 2023

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College basketball season is right around the corner, and local talent is already starting to shine on the hardwood. 

Jamarious Martin stepped on the court on Wednesday with Auburn University at Montgomery as the Warhawks traveled to face Auburn University. 

Martin was an honorable mention for All-State as he was the starting point guard for Valley’s 33-0 state championship team last season. Martin did not get much playing time on Wednesday, but the opportunity to step out there with some of the best meant the world to him. 

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“It was a lot,” Martin said. “It felt good just knowing that I’m playing Auburn and just being up close. Everybody wants to play on a Division I team. Playing against them, that’s a big step too. I didn’t get to play that much, but I still learned a lot getting to be a part of the game.” 

As a freshman, Martin has already seen several differences between the college game and his time at Valley. 

College basketball is much faster than any level of high school basketball. There are also major differences in the way defenses play. 

“It’s really the pace of how you play,” Martin said. “You deal with pace in high school too, but in college, you really have to make your own pace and not let the defense control you. In a college game, a lot can get involved — the crowd, the team giving you different looks — but you just have to keep your pace and know what you’re trying to accomplish.” 

Another key difference between college and high school is the size. At five-foot-ten, Martin was already one of the smaller players in Valley’s starting lineup last season. 

Now, Martin is at least two inches shorter than every player on AUM’s roster. That size difference has only increased Martin’s motivation. Martin’s height has never stopped him before, and he does not plan for it to stop him now. 

“It always makes you want to play harder,” Martin said. “My coach always tells me every day, ‘you’ve got to make an impact on defense’. Because of how small I am, I have to be a pest.” 

The coaching staff at AUM has incited Martin to buy in on the defensive side. Martin has never really made defense a focal point of his game until now. 

Now, Martin has started to pattern his defense after De’Aron Fox. Martin likes the way Fox uses his body on the defensive side. 

“I really just started getting into playing defense,” Martin said. “In high school, I really didn’t like playing defense. I like how he can play defense. He has energy for offense and defense.” 

Despite being the new guy on the block, Martin has felt right at home with the team at AUM. Several of his teammates have taken him under their wings and given him ways to improve his game. 

“I feel like I fit in with them good,” Martin said. “They accepted me like a regular freshman. They’re really big on improving what you already have and taking it to the next level.” 

Martin was in a brand new territory on Wednesday, but there were several familiar faces in the crowd. 

The city of Valley came out to support Martin. Several of Martin’s former teammates and friends showed up to watch him get on the court for the first time as a college basketball player. 

“It means a lot,” Martin said. “I talk to them almost every day. As soon as I found out we were playing Auburn, I let them know, and they bought their tickets immediately. Just to have them there to support me, it made me feel good. Having a good support system is always good in any situation.” 

Martin undoubtedly has a busy schedule as a collegiate athlete, but he still plans to make time for the Rams. Martin plans to attend games when he can, and he is always available to help his former teammates when needed.