Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
During the National Prep Showcase in November at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, there are plenty of prep schools teams throughout the nation that are competing for the college scholarships that they once dreamed of attaining.
UOthers are playing for the career that they plan on having, which is playing professional basketball in the NBA. During this weekend, scouts from several of the NBA’s 30 teams were present looking at the cream of the crop on the high school scene.
Kenyon Martin, Jr., or “K.J,” as he most commonly referred to, is one of the more marquee names in this event. The 6-foot-8 forward plays like a man amongst boys, as he shows plenty of athleticism on both ends of the floor, as he is able to get to make plenty of plays around the basket & has a bit of a jumpshot.
“I just seen my dad play at a young age, and me seeing how much fun he had with it, and I mean, that’s just really it for me, I like inspiring young kids also, having a little fan base also. Just younger kids and my family motivates me to play,” says Martin about what motivates him to be successful on the court.
His father is none other than Kenyon Martin, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft, who would play 15 years in the NBA, and played for five NBA teams, most notably the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) and the Denver Nuggets.
When asked about being the son of a former pro, the younger Martin replied, “I think it’s a good thing to have, because he tells me the stuff that he had to go through to play and stuff like that, so I’m glad I have him in my corner. He just tells me it’s a long process, [to] just keep going on days you don’t feel like doing anything, you still gotta go to the gym, because that’s when it counts the most.”
On the strengths and weaknesses in his game, he replied, “Attacking, finishing, that’s my game. I’ve just been working on shooting, getting my shot up and stuff like that, so that’s what I’ve been working on.”
Last season, as a senior at Sierra Canyon School, a private school in Chatsworth, California, Martin averaged 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Trailblazers.
When asked about his time at Sierra Canyon, which is currently one of the premier basketball programs in the nation, he replied, “Nah, I had a great experience. Me, Scotty [Pippen], Cassius [Stanley], us three, we all graduated together, so it was fun, it was something different, we were all on the same page, we all had the same goal, so it was fun getting through that experience together.”
Back in May, he made a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt University, where his old Sierra Canyon teammate, Pippen, is now a freshman. But then he decided to back out and go the pro route. But then Martin once again had a change of heart and decided to do a postgraduate year at IMG Academy, a perennial powerhouse school in Bradenton, Florida, where he stars for their post-grad team.
On his experience with IMG and what led him to go there, he replied, “Just to improve my game, just to get stronger, [and get better] with shooting specifically. It’s good, I’ve got my mind right, people just think basketball is all about playing, but it’s also your mental, so me getting my mind right, my body right, that’s the reason I’m at IMG.”
After this season ends, Martin plans on entering the 2020 NBA Draft, as he recently turned 19 years old this month. With many kids wanting to go pro early rather than go to college for a year or two, it has become a growing trend over the last couple of years.
When asked about what would make him attractive to NBA scouts, he replied, “I mean, everything, like, I try to do everything on the court. If I’m not scoring, like, if my shot’s not going in, I’m always going to be effective on the defensive end. I’m just willing to join any team and I’ll do what they need me to do.”
In the event that he does hear his name called on June 25th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, he replied, “It will feel real good, just the hours I put in the gym, the weight room, stuff like that, it’ll all pay off. That’s just not the end of it, once I get there, I still got to keep getting better every day.”
On Draft Night, dreams of many are either fulfilled, deferred or shattered, as there is only 60 picks and two rounds. When asked how he’ll feel if he doesn’t hear his name called, and if he’ll work harder, he replied, “Yeah, no, for sure, either way, even if I get drafted, even if I don’t, I’m going to work harder either way.”
In just a couple of months, Kenyon Martin, Jr. will be going to pre-draft camps and will be auditioning for his future, just like his father did 20 years ago. But he’s blazing his own trail and plans to make a big splash at the next level.
“I’m willing to show people that I’m good enough to be in the pros, because there’s people that doubt me, and that motivates me,” he replied.