On to the next level.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon on campus, sophomore forward Jarell Martin announced his intentions to declare for the 2015 NBA Draft and forego his final two seasons at LSU.
The high-flying dunker from Baton Rouge (click here and here for refreshers on his aerial acrobatics) emerged as one of the Southeastern Conference’s top players in 2015.
Martin’s freshman-season averages of 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 47.1 percent shooting blossomed into year-two averages of 16.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 50.9 percent shooting from the field. He finished top five in scoring and rebounding in the SEC and, over the final five games of conference play, lifted LSU off the NCAA Tournament bubble with 22.8 points per game.
“I think it’s just the difference a year makes,” Jeff Jones, Martin’s high school coach at Madison Preparatory Academy, told TSD. “His maturation, his game and his approach to the game is so much different from last year to this year. Last year he was still trying to figure it all out, going from high school to the college level. He was learning to play the three and the four. He also played a good part of that season with an injured ankle.
“This year he’s bigger, he’s stronger, he’s healthy. After kind of a trial-by-fire year he knew what to expect, and his numbers went up across the board. Rebounding is probably the biggest area he improved in. When you see that kind of thing, you know it’s short-lived in college. It’s sad, but the truth is the longer you stay the worse your chances, as far as advancing in the NBA. I was glad he was able to turn on this year and make First-Team All-SEC and play the way he did.”
Jones went on to say he’s been contacted in recent weeks by six or seven NBA franchises “doing background checks and expressing interest” in Martin, a 2013 McDonald’s All-American.
“A number of teams have called to do background checks and stuff like that,” explained Jones before forecasting Martin’s draft stock. “I’ve heard he could go as high as the bottom of the lottery and as low as the end of the first round. The biggest thing for Jarell will be when he gets to workouts. A lot of people don’t understand the process. When he gets to workouts with particular teams, they’re going to bring him in with other guys that they’re considering drafting at his position.”
And how, in Jones’ estimation, can that benefit Martin?
“He’s a real unique problem,” Jones said. “One, if you bring him in with the power forwards, he’s too skilled and too agile. You bring him in with the wings, the Sam Dekkers and the Rondae Hollis-Jeffersons, he’s bigger and stronger than all those guys. So I think a lot of people will be impressed with his skill set when they get to get him in individual workouts (at the combine) in Chicago.”
The next step for Martin, who’s made his announcement well in advance of the April 26 early entry deadline, is getting ready for the aforementioned NBA Draft Combine, held May 12-17, and individual workouts.
As for LSU, the Tigers are now at 12 scholarship players for the 2015-16 season, one under the allowable limit. That count includes 2015 signee Ben Simmons, commitment Antonio Blakeney and transfer Craig Victor (from Arizona) as well as current sophomore Jordan Mickey, who is on the fence about turning pro himself.
Jarell Martin Declares for 2015 NBA Draft
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