With half a junior season still to play at Madison Prep and his senior year looming, Baton Rouge native Jarrell Martin isn’t in a major hurry to jump to any quick decisions.
But the 6-foot-7, 210-pound power forward certainly has the attention of a number of programs, including the two he’ll get a chance to see in action against each other Monday when LSU and Marquette square off at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“I want to watch both teams and see how they run their offense and defense and how it fits me,” Martin said last week. “I’m looking forward to seeing both of them play.”
Added Madison Prep coach Jeff Jones “He wants to go to the Marquette game to see (LSU) against some tough competition and see how they do. He wants to see how they do in the SEC against some of the other teams looking at him.”
The Tigers program is one Martin has gotten pretty familiar with. He has attended several games this season, including last Thursday when LSU slipped past UC Irvine 66-59.
Earlier in the week, Tigers coach Trent Johnson and assistant Brent Scott were in the gym when Martin’s Madison Prep team lost to Glen Oaks, as was USC assistant Bob Cantu.
Jones said the LSU coaches have been most consistent in Martin’s recruitment, jumping in last December, although he was sitting out to get his academics in order in Madison Prep’s first year of operation.
“Several schools are making a real big push on him,” said Jones, who was a Glen Oaks assistant for 10 years and helped tutor the late Ryan Francis (USC) and Brian Williams (redshirt freshman at Oklahoma State).
“Recruiting-wise he’s still wide open,” Jones said. “Oklahoma State, LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State, Louisville and Marquette are the ones he’s told me he’s most interested in.
“LSU has done a really good job with him. The lure of playing at home is big to any kid, because none of them really want to leave home.”
There’s one very basic, simple thing the Tigers can do to keep Martin’s attention.
“Keep winning,” Jones said. “A big key to these kids is the chance to be successful. He wants to play for a team that will get to the NCAA Tournament and be on national television. LSU definitely would have the inside track because they’re the home team. But he is wide open and looks at other schools.”
Martin said this early in the process there are no favorites.
It’s easy to see why he has become a favorite of so many teams, though.
Ranked No. 46 in the Class of 2013, Martin is averaging 20 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks for the Chargers (15-5). He’s coming off the best game of his prep career Friday against the East Baton Rouge Lab School: Career-highs with 36 points and 20 rebounds and added 8 assists and 6 blocks.
“I’m just playing my regular game and doing what I always do,” Martin said.
There have been some necessary adjustments needed, though.
Jones put together an ambitious schedule this season, which means Madison Prep has played teams without enough talented players to defend him with a variety of double-teams and traps designed to frustrate him.
“Throughout the season, teams have trapped me,” Martin said. “I start out dishing the ball to my teammates and let them score the ball and that takes the pressure off me.”
One area where Martin doesn’t feel any pressure is in the classroom.
Jones said the year off from basketball in 2010-11 helped Martin blossom as a student. He also noted that Madison Prep is a Type II charter school – which means it has to be approved by the Louisiana Department of Education and abide by the same guidelines other public and private schools are held to. In Madison Prep’s first year, 91% of the graduating class went on to college.
In other words, Martin isn’t likely to encounter the kind of hurdles some players from alternative schools often do.
“He’s on track academically,” Jones said. “He’s taking junior-level classes and has a 2.6 or 2.7 GPA and he’s going to take the ACT the next chance he can. He’s doing everything the right way.”
And with a future somewhere in basketball, Martin is making sure he takes care of business there, too.
“I’m staying after practice, putting up a lot shots and working hard on and off the court,” Martin said.