Irish senior earns late DI interest
York Catholic pulled away from Bethlehem Catholic in the final four minutes to earn a 60-54 victory Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 at the 28th annual Robert H. Griffith Holiday Classic. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
At a time when most high school seniors have finalized their college choice and hammered out some of the particulars of their first semester away from home, York Catholic's Melik Martin still has not decided where he will go next year.
Unnoticed by Division I basketball coaches for virtually his entire high school career, the senior has received a torrent of interest in recent weeks.
More than a dozen Division I programs have contacted his AAU coach, and Martin received his first Division I scholarship offer from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh last week — just days before his graduation from high school on May 24.
"It's definitely been awesome," Martin said Monday night. "I love all the interest.
"But nothing has changed. I just have to keep working, keep playing."
The best big man from the York-Adams league this season has a visit lined up to Brown University in Rhode Island this weekend.
"He's that kind of kid," York Ballers founder/coach Pat McGlynn said. "He could actually go Ivy League."
Overlooked by college recruiters, until now, Martin has left an impression after performing well at several showcase tournaments for the York Ballers in Lancaster and Pittsburgh.
To understand what facilitated this late push, however, it's important to understand why Martin didn't garner more attention sooner. Just 17, he played for his age group on one of Maryland's AAU teams.
"I guess going into my senior year not as many college coaches had a chance to see me," Martin said.
The problem was, Martin is younger than most of his classmates.
"He was actually playing with sophomores," McGlynn said.
After switching teams and playing with older players, coaches noticed him.
Even in high school, despite helping York Catholic to a 22-4 season, the Irish didn't have a prolonged postseason that could have allowed more college coaches to notice him. After earning a first-round bye in the District 3 tournament, York Catholic lost its opening playoff game. Then it lost its only state playoff game.
Notified about Martin's willingness to play for the York Ballers in 2017, McGlynn watched him.
"He was an animal, I thought, 'Wow, this kid can play,'" McGlynn said.
Listed at 6-foot-5 on the Irish roster, Martin averaged 16 points per game by shooting 57 percent from the floor. He averaged eight rebounds per game and earned third-team all-state honors in Class 3A.
Martin verbally committed to Division II Lincoln University, but Martin backed away from the non-binding commitment, he said. (That could be for the best since Lincoln coach and former NBA player Doug Overton has some legal issues to overcome. Martin said that had nothing to do with his decision to open up his college decision.)
It all has made for an unexpected May. Martin could sign with one of the interested Division I programs, he could slide down and opt to play Division II, or he could spend a year in prep school to mull over what to do.
"If he decides to go to prep school, he's easily a (Division I) mid-major player, because he's still a baby," McGlynn said about Martin's age.
"You have him on the main stage and he is performing on the main stage, and I think if he takes another year he could add 25 or 30 pounds on his frame. His shoulders are so big."
Martin hasn't set a deadline for his college decision.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Martin said about his decision.
He has so many options, but he's running out of time.
"It's kind of like life, there's ups and downs," McGlynn said. "Everything is a gamble, but this is his dream. A lot of kids have that dream, but not a lot of kids have that ability to become a Division I player."