Martin, a Baton Rouge native, overcame an ankle injury in the opening game of his debut season in 2013-14 to average 10.3 points and 4.6 rebounds, securing a place on the All-SEC Freshman Team.
Heading into year two the all-purpose forward is on track to make an even bigger impression on the league, bolstered by an infusion of confidence and comfort in his game and a healthier body.
“I’m definitely getting more comfortable with everything now that I’ve got that year under my belt,” Martin told TSD recently. “I’m more confident in my game and just with everything that comes with it.”
Down some 12-15 pounds, to 233 pounds, the 6-foot-10 Martin is feeling a difference in how he moves on the floor. “I’ve been working on everything during the summer,” said Martin. “I dropped down in weight and feel like I’m more physically in shape.”
His head coach sees that, too. As he also does Martin leaving behind that timid freshman who arrived on campus a little more than a year ago.
“I think it’s maturity,” leveled Johnny Jones. “I’m hopeful that with a year under his belt, he’s continuing to grow. He’s shed several pounds, has become quicker out there on the floor, more explosive, and he’s had really a great healthy summer. He’s continued to develop, and we’re looking forward to great some things from Jarell in his sophomore campaign.”
Part of Martin’s growth is due to time spent this summer around the best up-and-coming talent in the country. His play in various skill-camp environments helped Martin realize how much he belongs.
“I went to a Nike Skills Camp and then I went to LeBron James Skills Academy Camp,” Martin recalled. “That was a great experience. We went out there and picked up some things that we can bring back here. It was a great experience for me and Jordan [Mickey].”
Martin also got a taste of what it’s like to go up against Mickey, something that more often than not doesn’t happen in LSU practices for the two starters.
“We actually played against each other. They put us on separate teams, so we ended up defending each other a couple of times,” explained Martin. “It showed us that we both like to compete, we both want to win.”
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Martin is the same one that followed him throughout his freshman season. Is he a three or a four?
“I worked on both things this summer because Coach Jones is going to play me both on the perimeter and down low,” said Martin.
Wherever he lines up on the offensive end, Martin, down in weight and up in self-assurance, should prove to be a handful for defenders in what many expect to be his final collegiate campaign.
Click on the link below and scroll to the final 5-10 seconds to watch Martin throw down an off-the-backboard alley-oop from Tim Quarterman in Wednesday's opening practice of the season.