With a dad who was an NFL Pro Bowl defensive end and an uncle who played in the NBA, Wayne Martin, Jr. has quite the bloodlines.
But the 6-8, 190-pound junior forward from Jacksonville (Fla.) Providence Christian is certainly headed down a path to make his own name with offers from schools such as Arkansas, Memphis, Ole Miss, Miami. Florida. Marquette and Virginia Tech just to name a few.
Martin, whose dad Wayne, Sr., played for the University of Arkansas and 10 NFL seasons with the New Orleans Saints, recently took an unofficial visit to dad's old school during the Oct. 9-11 weekend.
"It was great," the younger Martin said. "Honestly, I love Arkansas and I can definitely see myself playing there. I have close to 25 schools interested in me and I have got 13 offers, but after this weekend I would say is at the very top of my list, definitely in the top three…That would be Arkansas, Memphis and Ole Miss."
The visit was his first for the 2011 prospect to Fayetteville since 2003 when his dad – an Arkansas native from Cherry Valley - was being elected in the Arkansas Hall of Honor. This time it was for the elder Martin to serve as the honorary captain for the Razorbacks' 44-23 rout of SEC foe Auburn.
"That was pretty special for him back in 2003 and he was really pumped about being there this past weekend also," Martin said. "He's always loved it in Arkansas, loved the fans. We actually still have a house there (in Cherry Valley) that's all paid for that we still have so if I do sign with Arkansas, I will have that to go home, too."
Martin, whose uncle Jeff played collegiately at Murray State and got the Racers to NCAA Tournament and also playing two years for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, had the opportunity to visit with Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey and assistant Isaac Brown as well as look over the campus.
"Coach Pelphrey is a great guy, a great person and a great coach," Martin said. "He tells you just how it is, is very honest and just how you would fit in the program. He's a guy that I think I could really trust and would enjoy playing for. I also really like Coach Isaac and just that whole staff."
He also got a good taste of what Razorback fans are all about at the football game.
"Arkansas fans are like no others," Martin said. "Their passion is unmatched. They are crazy and passionate and very supportive. My dad has always talked about that and I really got the opportunity to see that at the football game. It was just crazy and really pumped me up about playing before them some day."
Martin – who was born in Canton, La., - has a timetable on when he plans to make his decision.
"I am going to make a commitment to someone in the spring of 2010," Martin said. "I think that will be a good time. I'll get the season over, let things settle down and them make the best decision."
He does have an affinity for one area of the country.
"I think I want to play in the Mid-South because I just really love the part of the country and it feels like home to me," Martin said. "That's one of the biggest reasons that I am looking so hard at Arkansas, Memphis and Ole Miss."
He has spent time in the area during the summers playing his AAU ball with the Memphis YOMCA squad.
"I have been playing with those same guys since the eighth grade and I just can't see any good reason to not play with them during the summer," Martin said. "They are my friends and I enjoy being around them and they are very good players. I get asked a lot about why I don't play with one of the Florida teams, but it just feels right and I get to go up against great competition."
Martin is not your typical 6-8 back-to-basket prospect.
My strengths are my versatility and my slashing ability," Martin said. "I'm 6-8, but have lot of quickness and a good first step that allows me to get to the rack. I guess as far as things I need to work on it would be improving my ball-handling and ball skills."
"If I had to pick somebody that I was like in the NBA, I would say a young Shawn Marion, who has a lot of versatility and can do a lot of things all over the court," Martin added. "I think that is who I would compare my game and talent with at this point."
He is on a loaded Providence Christian squad that includes 6-5 Kentucky commit Stacy Poole and 6-8 Florida commit Patric Young – both who will be at the school this season after playing at others last season.
"Honestly I think we can go all the way this season," Martin said. "We certainly have all the talent and it is just about playing together and working hard to get better every day. I think not only going to be one of the best teams in Florida, but one of the best in the country."
Certainly the talent level is high for Providence.
Stacy is just a tremendous player and one that can do so many things," Martin said. "It's going to be great to have him around this season. Pat is a load and really allows me to be freed up and get open around the court. He's tough to handle with just one guy so that leaves the rest of us some opportunities.
"We also have two really good guards that are getting recruiting," Martin continued. "It is a really a good group."
Martin decided to follow the path paved by his Uncle Jeff instead of his dad, but he wasn't because he wasn't skilled on the football field.
"I actually played football in the eighth grade for the last three games of the season after the coach came and asked me to help out," Martin said. "I played wide receiver and actually caught two touchdown passes in each of the three games. So I had six touchdowns, which is what a lot of guys had for the season.
"But my passion has always been for basketball and that's what I wanted to stick with and see what I could do with," Martin said. "It's been my sport and the one I am going to concentrate on."
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