KEENE, N.H. 2/4/14 – Anyone who’s seen Ryan Martin on the basketball court knows what kind of competitor he is. Relishing his role as a team player and clutch shooter, the Wayne, Maine, native also plays with a chip on his shoulder, always finding a way to silence skeptics on and off the court.
Thought to be under-sized coming out of Maranacook High School in Readfield, Maine, where he helped lead his team to a couple of state (Class B) titles, the 5-foot 9-inch guard spent a season trying to dispel doubters while playing at Division I UMaine. Later transferring to Division III Keene State, Martin put up terrific numbers, scoring over 1,000 points in three seasons despite being a marked man on every opposing team’s scouting report.
Throughout his basketball career, Martin looked at adversity as a challenge, overcoming one obstacle and moving on to the next as he headed down the court. While many Division III players conclude their careers with the final game of their senior year, Ryan was unwilling to put his ball in the rack. Instead, he stayed around Keene State, honing his game and waiting for an opportunity to extend his career.
Martin’s determination appeared to pay off when, after auditioning last summer, he was selected 19th overall by the Island Storm of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in the National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada’s draft.
While it’s not the National Basketball Association, the NBL allows American and Canadian players a chance to display their skills and play professional ball. For a player like Martin it was a dream come true. “This is the league I’ve been trying to play in since my last game at Keene State,” the three-time Little East Conference All-Star, who finished his Owl career with 1,303 points, said. “It’s their NBA. They draw huge crowds and treat you like you’re a celebrity.”
Unfortunately, Martin’s stay with the Island Storm didn’t last long. One of a few Division III players looking to make the league, Martin was released.
He took the news hard. Putting all his time and energy into reaching his goal, Martin, a physical education major, even turned down a teaching job back in Maine to chase his dream. “He was disappointed, but I told him that there are a lot of other guys that end up getting released,” said Martin’s father, Ken Martin, whose wife Nancy is a 1979 KSC grad. “He had the opportunity to get drafted and a lot of guys didn’t have that opportunity. I told him something else might open up.”
Martin’s dad tuned out to be right. It’s hard not to like both Ryan Martin the player and Ryan Martin the person. Attending the summer combine camp allowed Martin to display his game for all nine teams in the fledgling third-year League. David Magley, the head coach and general manager of the upstart Brampton A’s, liked what he saw. “We were mildly impressed with him the first day. Day two you start liking him even more, and by day three you want him to come back and see if he can make it,” said Magley, who played one year for the Cleveland Cavaliers and spent several seasons in the Continental Basketball League.
Magley didn’t forget Martin. Looking for a point guard to add to his late-season roster, he gave Martin a call. “The whole year has been an emotional roller-coaster for me,” said Martin. “Things keep bouncing back and forth, but now I have another chance to play for a team and a coach I really enjoy playing for.”
“No one deserves it more than Ryan and you can’t state that enough,” said KSC Coach Rob Colbert. “He’s a kid who has dedicated his entire life since graduating to make this happen. He’s made some professional sacrifices to keep this going and I hope it works out for him.”
After a slight hold-up to iron out contract matters, Martin left Monday to join the team in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto. With 10 games left in the NBL regular season and playoffs set to start in March, Martin is taking a wait-and-see attitude. “I might be there for a week or I might come back or I might be there for the whole season,” he said.
Magley says he’s looking at three guards to fill one spot. “It’s a very special skill set we’re looking for and it’s probably not what Ryan does best,” said Magley, the A’s first-year coach. “What Ryan does best is he shoots the heck out of the ball. I need a great defender – a point who can really defend.”
Regardless of what happens at this week’s work-out, Megley wants to see Martin succeed. “Obviously, he’s an easy kid to fall in love with,” Magley said. “I think I’m going to figure a way to keep him in the organization one way or the other. If he doesn’t make it we’ll see what else he can do for us.”