ULM basketball coach Orlando Early likes scoring punch in his point guards. In his latest signee, Miramar (Fla.) High School playmaker Xavier Martin, Early found a player who will bring those skills to the Warhawks.
Martin (5-10) averaged 19.5 points, 4.4 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 steals as a junior. Last month, he enjoyed a 56-point outburst against a matchup against Alabama recruit Charles Hankerson, Jr.
"I've known his high school coach a long time," Early said. "He visited us and he liked our guys. He liked the situation."
Martin earned All-Broward County honors and third-team All-State for a 20-9 squad that reached the state semifinals last season. Martin was pivotal down the scoring 37 points against reigning 4A state champion Miami Pace, 36 against St. Thomas Aquinas and 34 against McArthur in the District quarterfinals. He hit a game-winning shot in the waning seconds of the state quarterfinals as Miramar stunned the No. 2 team in Class 6A.
"This kid is a winner," Early said.
In scoring 56 points last month for his fall league team, Martin had 45 first-half points and nailed 13 three-pointers. According to the Miami Herald, "Martin clearly won the head-to-head matchup with the more heralded prospect by hitting his first three shots and scoring 24 points during a torrid nine-minute stretch in the first half. The 56 broke the previous career-high of 39 points Martin had against perennial state power Miami Pace last season."
``After I hit my first few shots I knew it was going to be a good day,'' Martin told the newspaper. ``They started trapping me but that didn't work. Everybody thought Charles would do this and do that because he is four inches taller than me. No, it wasn't going to happen. He couldn't guard me either so they had to go to zone.''
Despite his credentials, Martin was considered an under-the-radar prospect. After seeing him play at a Nike Team Florida Workout, ESPN.com's Reggie Rankin wrote that "Martin is a scoring point guard who is tough and competes on both ends of the floor. He is stronger than he looks, which enables him to finish through contact in transition or on drives with the clock winding down, where he likes to shoot the runner.
Martin is also a good drive, draw and kick passer. He gets his teammates open shots when the defense becomes overly concerned with his ability to score. He has the ball on a string and can knock down open midrange jumpers with range to the arc.
Martin plays with great energy and effort on the defensive end as well. He will step in front of a post player and take a charge and he applies excellent ball pressure. At times he will force the issue by being aggressive, but for the most part he makes good decisions and takes good care of the ball. Martin is going to be a very complete lead guard in college.
Early said Martin compares favorably to former North Carolina star Ty Lawson.
"He's strong, athletic and extremely fast," Early said. As a sophomore, Martin averaged 12.1 points and 2.1 steals.