Playing college basketball isn’t in everyone’s cards. Some kids, even if they have decent high school stats, still aren’t good enough to play at the next level. As a former coach, I can tell you that I got numerous videos and emails daily on 5’10-6’0 guards. There are so many options out there, that sometimes kids just get overlooked. The ones who are 5’9 or smaller, tend to just get discarded unless recommended by someone a coach really trusts. However, every now and then, a 5’7 kid, with no scholarships out of high school, proves everyone out there wrong. Justin Martin could have hung up his shoes, and called it quits. Instead, he decided to write a different story.
Justin was surrounded by some really good high school basketball players at Lewis and Clark HS in Spokane, Washington. He was a role player who specialized on the defensive end of the floor. He was named Greater Spokane League Defensive Player of the Year, and also was named a honorable mention all-league selection. Those honors weren’t enough to outweigh the fact that he was only 5’7, so he left high school with no offers. Hungry to keep playing, Justin found himself at a walk-on tryout at Wenatchee Valley Community College, where he impressed the staff enough that he was finally offered to join the team. His role changed quickly and he proved he was much more than just a defensive player. As a sophomore he averaged 22.1 points per game, and earned first-team all east region honors.
Coach Bickley and Coach Patterson at Multnomah (OR) took notice. They sold Justin on their fast tempo style of play, and it was an opportunity for Justin to get up a lot of shots. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Multnomah style of play, they have a goal to get up shots within seven seconds of the offense. They would rather get a shot up, then turn the ball over, so they encourage their team to take the first open look they get.
The Cascade Collegiate Conference is a really good league. Justin said that you can’t walk into any game thinking it will be an easy night, and that every team has good talent. Justin wasn’t sure he even wanted to play NAIA basketball out of junior college. He didn’t know a ton about the level, and was looking to go higher. He said that he is glad things fell into place and he chose Multnomah over other offers.
The decision paid off in his first season. Justin once again proved that he can really score the basketball. He led the entire nation in scoring last year at 31.9 points per game. He also set the NAIA DII scoring record for most points in a game with 71. You can watch the season highlights from the HM All-American here:
Justin said that it is a great feeling, and a true blessing to set the new NAIA DII record for most points in a game. He credits his teammates for the support, and his coaches for putting complete trust in him. Mutnomah and Justin seem to be a perfect fit for one another. The Honorable Mention All-American and nations leading scorer will look to follow last season up with a great senior campaign. The personal accolades haven’t seemed to take the chip on his shoulder away, and Justin and the Multnomah will be looking to use that mentality to make some noise in the Cascade Collegiate Conference this season!