Martell Webster update

There's nothing deceiving about Martell Webster. What you see with the 6-6 shooting guard from Seattle (Wash.) Seattle Prep is what you get. Sure, there's the flash, the skill, the unquestioned ability on the basketball court. But there's a lot more to Martell.

Webster has had time to think about school, and things outside of basketball as a result of injuries to both his feet that required a significant amount of rest. But now he has clearance to hit the hardwood again, and nobody is more motivated than Martell to prove that all the hype surrounding him is legitimate. And for himself, he needs to prove it.

"It's fine right now, but I still need to get in shape before we go to New Orleans," Webster told about his high ankle sprain that finished his comeback after basically sitting out his entire junior season with an injury to his other foot. "I got a release from my doctor, and I've got a personal trainer that's a good friend of mine and he's going to help me out.

"I kind of rushed it a little. I didn't really need to play the rest of the season, it was pointless. But you learn from your mistakes. I learned from that one."

Webster has also learned some valuable lessons during his forced convalescence on the pine. "It's real tough to sit out and just be able to support the other guys out there on the bench," he said. "But I've waited and the time has come that I'm probably going to play in New Orleans. I've got my fingers crossed for that."

New Orleans is next on the docket for the AAU team Martell plays for - Friends of Hoop Seattle. It's a qualifier tournament for Atlanta's Peach Jam and the team leaves Friday for the Big Easy. Playing basketball will come as a welcome respite for Martell, who has done nothing but talk about it so far. And he's keenly aware of just how much more talking he's going to be faced with in the near future.

"I haven't been hit hard with recruiting yet, but it will probably come full-force after the Nike camp," said Martell. "I'm not really looking forward to it, but I know it's going to happen. Right now I'm just enjoying the free time that I have."

Besides his candid nature, Martell is also well-spoken, choosing his words carefully when pressed a little for news on some of his favorites. "Arizona is the only one right now, I'm not so sure about the other ones," he said. "Those will come out soon, probably after the Nike camp. I'll talk about my top schools soon, but not right now." recently named Webster as their number-two prep basketball player in the country for the class of 2005, regardless of position. That's heady praise indeed for a player that only suited up for a handful of games in 2003-2004. "I really don't try to play to the media hype," Martell said, matter-of-factly. "I try to keep that out of my mind. Truly, I'm not the number-two player in the nation. That's just what someone graded me on. I've been hurt all season, and to live up to that ranking I'm going to have to put in a total effort, day and night.

"Number-two in the nation means nothing to me right now because I haven't had a chance to prove it."

And when there is mention of possibly skipping a level and declaring for the 2005 NBA draft, Webster is quick to respond in a sharp manner. "That makes me sick," he said. "I don't think about the NBA. I see other kids going out of high school, going right to the NBA that should be using their time to go to college and develop their game for the next step. Personally, I just think they go to get the check, their first check, but they aren't going to play much.

"For me, I'm most likely going to go to college. The only way I would go to the NBA is if I was the number-one pick in the 2005 draft. Things happen, but I won't go pro if I'm the twenty-ninth pick. I'd rather go to college."

Any hoops spotlight on a Seattle player ultimately has to end with the local school. Martell won't tip his hand, but he definitely gave Huskies fans some kibbles and bits to chew on while he ponders his next move in the chess match known as high school basketball recruiting.

"I'm looking at U-Dub (Washington), but there have been some things that have come out in regards to whether or not I'm going there," he said. "I'm not going to put that out there in the open right now, but Coach (Lorenzo) Romar and I have a really good relationship. I see him because we have practice (at Hec Ed Pavilion). The chemistry is there. There's a chance I could go to U-Dub, but there's a chance I could go other places too. My options are open."

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