CHARLESTON, S.C. - Barclay Radebaugh often refers to Kelvin Martin as one of the fiercest competitors he's ever coached. Martin's competitive fire and talent made him a Charleston Southern Hall of Famer, a successful pro overseas and recently earned the 2012 grad a spot in the Dallas Mavericks' mini-camp.
Martin competed in the two-day camp last week in Dallas and was pleased with his performance despite falling short of landing a spot on the Mavericks' summer league team. The 6-5 forward from Adel, Ga., was humbled by the opportunity to step into an NBA facility and go toe-to-toe with some of the best players in the world.
"All you really want is to get your foot in the door and I think I did that," Martin said. "The director of scouts that's over the camp texted my agent and said I had a really good first day and just overall was really solid as a player. It's great to get that type of feedback and also motivating to know 'ok, if I fine tune some things or do this or that, maybe I get that chance to play in the summer league next year.'"
Martin played his way onto the NBA radar with a strong 2017-18 season with Vanilla Cremona of Italy's Serie A league, the country's top pro circuit. While showcasing his versatility at the 2, 3 and 4 positions, Martin averaged 13.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.5 assists per game. It was just the latest productive campaign in a six-year career that has also taken Martin to the Netherlands and Germany.
"I took a big step in my career (this past year) and the next one is gonna be even bigger," Martin said. "It was my goal to get into the summer league and obviously that didn't happen but I took the mini-camp as a chance to get exposure and have a lot of guys see me play. It's great to know I can still have that dream of the NBA and it can still be there for me if I keep working and keep pushing."
Work ethic has never been in question for Martin, who arrived at CSU as a raw talent and left four years later as one of the elite players in program history. Martin is among CSU's career leaders in rebounds (2nd), steals (3rd), field goal percentage (7th) and scoring (8th), and is one of just four players in Big South Conference history with over 1,000 points, 900 rebounds, 200 steals and 100 blocked shots.
The two-time Big South Defensive Player of the Year was a no-brainer pick to the CSU Athletics Hall of Fame last fall. Martin could not attend the induction ceremony because he was in the midst of his season but made sure to see his plaque in person while on campus last weekend.
"That was unreal," Martin chuckled. "Unreal - just because I remember getting to CSU in 2008, walking down that hall, seeing all those hall of famers and saying to myself 'I want to be in the hall of fame, I want my jersey to hang up at CSU, I want those experiences.' Coming to CSU and actually seeing it there as I walked down that hall and thinking about walking down that hall as a freshman and then walking down that hall six years after graduating was just crazy because this is what I wanted."
"It's one of the biggest accomplishments of my life," Martin continued. "Everybody wants to go to a school, no matter how big or small a school it is, and leave your legacy there. That's exactly what I did. I couldn't be happier to be in that situation with all the great players that came through there."
Martin also spoke glowingly of his relationship with former CSU teammate Jamarco Warren, the Bucs' second all-time leading scorer. Warren graduated a year ahead of Martin but the two have remained close, forming a strong, now decade-long friendship.
"Those three years with Jamarco, I learned from him and I just wanted to take the program another step and he helped me do that," Martin reflected. "He's been there ever since and even prepared me for the mini-camp. He's the reason I came to CSU and he's really helped me grow into the player and person I am now so I can't thank him enough."
Martin will likely learn the destination for year seven of his pro career sometime over the next month. While home for the summer, he is busy with his new charitable foundation Rare Heart, which seeks to give back to youth in his native Adel. Martin is planning a 'Rare Heart Day' for the community on July 14.