He can now look back on his collegiate career knowing that he did. Martin announced Wednesday that he will forego the final two seasons of his eligibility and declare for the NBA Draft.
He cited this year’s run to the Big Dance as something that helped him reach that decision.
"My expectation coming in was to get this team to the tournament,” Martin said. “We did that this year. I definitely feel great about it that I accomplished that goal. I wanted to go further, but we made it there with a young team.”
The Tigers didn’t win, though the loss certainly doesn’t rest on Martin’s shoulders. He played all 40 minutes and recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in LSU’s heartbreaking loss to NC State last week.
But not taking his team to the Round of 32 still haunts Martin, and he admitted it gave him reason to consider another year in Baton Rouge.
"It was a pretty tough decision with the guys we have coming in next year, especially after losing in the first round of the tournament,” Martin said. “But the financial situation with my family played a large part in it. My dream has always been to play in the NBA."
Martin’s now on the brink of making that dream a reality. He’s looking forward to all that will come with that. He’ll submit his name for a draft evaluation this week and hopes to also hire an agent in the near future.
So while it’s full steam ahead for Martin, the rest of us can start to look back at the legacy he leaves behind.
Martin started 57 games in his two years with LSU. He made the All-SEC Freshman team in 2014 and followed that with a consensus first-team All-SEC selection this past season.
He finished his career with 12 games scoring at least 20 points. Down the stretch of this season, he had eight straight in double figures and 15 double doubles. He averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game as a sophomore, accepting his role as the unquestioned leader of this team.
Johnny Jones said Martin shed “a certain light on [this] program” by transitioning to the NBA. He said Martin proved that a highly rated recruit can come to LSU and potentially translate that into a first-round selection.
Martin will be the first of Jones’ recruits to do that. You can expect a kid named Ben Simmons to do that again next year.
Martin and Jones both agreed the foundation for success has been laid at LSU.
So can next year’s Tigers do what Martin couldn’t?
"The team will do great,” he said. “They realize how important each game is. They're going to come back stronger, work real hard during the offseason and get better as a team. They'll be fired up."