An unknown to the casual college basketball fan just four years ago when he was elevated from assistant to head coach, Frank Martin has become one of the nation's hottest young coaches in guiding the tradition-rich Kansas State program back into the forefront of college basketball.
Under Martin, the Wildcats have won 95 games (95-43; .688) in the past four seasons, including 16 over teams ranked in the Top 25, and have advanced to the postseason each season, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2008, 2010 and 2011). The 95 wins are the most by a coach in K-State history in his first four years and the most-ever by the school in a four-year span. Martin is the first Wildcat head coach to post four consecutive 20-win seasons and joined Lon Kruger as the only coaches to guide the team to the postseason in each of his first four seasons. The three NCAA Tournament appearances in a four-year span are the most since the squad went to four consecutive tournaments from 1986-90.
K-State has finished among the nation's Top 25 in back-to-back seasons for the first time in nearly 40 years. A season after finishing seventh in both major polls - its highest final rankings since the 1961-62 season - the Wildcats finished 21st in The Associated Press and 24th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls in 2010-11. It marked the first time that the program has capped the year ranked in the Coaches' polls in consecutive seasons since the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons.
Martin has not only guided the school to the NCAA Tournament, he has also found success there, advancing to the round of 32 in each occurrence, including the program's first Elite Eight in 22 seasons in 2009-10. His five NCAA Tournament victories rank third in school history to Jack Hartman (11, 1970-86) and recent Naismith and Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Tex Winter (seven, 1954-68). Counting the trip to the NIT in 2008-09, Martin has won at least one postseason contest in each of his four seasons at the helm and has a 6-4 (.600) record in postseason play, including a 5-3 (.625) mark in the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas State has more than proved its medal in the rugged Big 12 Conference under Martin, where he has guided the squad to 40 league wins (40-24) on an impressive .625 winning percentage. The 40 victories not only rank third in the Big 12 in the last four seasons behind Kansas (56) and Texas (44), they are the most in a four-year span since Jack Hartman won 43 Big Eight contests from 1973-77. In particular, among those wins are 16 on the road in Big 12 play, which is nearly double what the program produced in the first 10 seasons of conference action (10-70; 1996-2006).
Martin has knocked off nine ranked Big 12 foes in his tenure, including the nation's No. 1 team in back-to-back seasons (Texas in 2010 and Kansas in 2011). In 2011, the Wildcats earned their first road win over a Top 10 squad since 1994 with a 75-70 victory over No. 7/8 Texas on Feb. 28, the Longhorns' lone home loss in conference play in 2010-11. The win over the Jayhawks in 2011 was the second in the past four years at Bramlage Coliseum (with both coming when they were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively) after losing 24 in a row at home to their archrivals. It also marked the first win over a top-ranked Kansas squad since 1994.
In the process, Martin has helped make K-State one of only two Big 12 schools to finish in the top-4 in the league standings and receive a bye at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship each of the past four seasons.
The team's success as well as Martin's fast-paced style has drawn big crowds to Bramlage Coliseum, as the Wildcats have ranked among the nation's Top 35 in attendance in three of his four seasons. This past year, K-State recorded sellouts in 15 of 17 home contests, including all eight in Big 12 play. The 12,312 per game average in 2010-11 ranked 26th nationally and third in the Big 12, while the average and the total home attendance (209,316) both ranked third in school history. The squad has drawn 200,000 or more fans to Bramlage Coliseum in four of the last five seasons.
Aside from all the on-court success, Martin has also been the architect of K-State's resurgence in the classroom. With his focus on player accountability and responsibility, he has helped improve the men's basketball team's multi-year rate in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR) by 57 points since becoming head coach. The squad scored a 937 in the most recent APR release in 2011 to soar past the NCAA-mandated standard mark of 925. Also, the team posted the Big 12's best graduation rate (75%) in numbers released in 2010.
The program's recent success has been the culmination of a plan set in motion five years ago by then head coach Bob Huggins and continued by Martin, his top lieutenant, to return K-State back to the forefront of college basketball. A program that had gone seven years without a 20-win season and a trip to the postseason when the staff arrived in 2006 has since reached unprecedented new levels. Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Wildcats have posted a school-record 118 wins, including 50 in Big 12 play, and have tallied five consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time in school history. The team has reached the postseason each of the past five seasons for the first time in the school's 110-year history.
CONTRACT EXTENSION Following the record-breaking 2009-10 campaign, Martin was rewarded for his accomplishments with a new multi-year contract, securing his services as head coach through the 2014-15 season.
"As I watched and evaluated our basketball team and staff since my arrival, it became evident that Coach Martin has transformed our program in many ways," said athletics director John Currie. "Not only has he put a championship-level product on the court, but he has put a strong emphasis on the improvement of the team's APR and sustainment of a high graduation rate of our student-athletes. He and (wife) Anya have created a family atmosphere for the program and have been terrific in promoting the overall goals of the department and university."
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL SEASON DESPITE BUMPY RIDE Faced with expectations at an all-time high with multiple preseason Top 10 rankings and a preseason All-American in Jacob Pullen, Martin guided K-State to a fourth consecutive 20-win season in 2010-11, including a tie for third place in the always-difficult Big 12, and its third trip to the NCAA Tournament in four seasons. Although the Wildcats did not meet the critics' lofty preseason predictions, the squad's 23-11 overall record, including 10-6 mark in league play, was all the more impressive due to the multiple off-the-court distractions they faced, including the NCAA-mandated, multiple-game suspensions of his lone two seniors at mid-season and the defections of two other players.
The 2010-11 season began with high hopes, as K-State earned its highest-ever preseason rankings in both major polls, placing No. 3 in both The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls. The Wildcats were picked to win the Big 12 by several outlets, including the league's coaches, and Pullen was named the league's preseason Player of the Year. The return of a nucleus of talent from a team that was within a few minutes of the Final Four gave Wildcat fans everywhere the confidence that big things were ahead.
K-State won its first four games of the season, including Top 25 victories over No. 22/24 Virginia Tech and No. 18/22 Gonzaga, before suffering its first loss to defending NCAA champion and top-ranked Duke in the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic Championship game at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The squad rebounded to win their next five games before enduring one of their worst offensive performances under Martin in a loss to Florida at the Metro PCS Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Fla.
Following the defeat, adversity struck the team, as it was discovered that Pullen and fellow senior Curtis Kelly received extra benefits and were suspended for three and six games, respectively, by the NCAA. The short-handed Wildcats lost their next game, a hard-fought 63-59 setback to UNLV at the Sprint Center, before concluding non-conference play with three straight wins. Pullen was able to return for the final non-conference contest against Savannah State on Jan. 3, while Kelly was reinstated for the Texas Tech game on Jan. 15. However, the team suffered more misfortune, as promising forwards -- Freddy Asprilla and Wally Judge -- left the team at either the start or in the early portion of Big 12 play.
With a roster influx, the Big 12 provided a new challenge to Martin and his staff, as the Wildcats dropped five of their first seven league games, including four of their first five. With such a promising season seemingly unraveling, Martin, at the suggestion of assistant coach Brad Underwood, took the bold step of adjusting the offensive scheme to the "pinch-post" in early January. The offense, once made famous by legendary K-State head coach Tex Winter, proved a perfect match for the K-State personnel, helping the squad rattle off nine wins in their last 11 regular-season games to earn their fifth consecutive 20-win season (and fourth under Martin) and their third trip to the NCAA Tournament in four seasons.
Among those nine victories were its second straight over the nation's top-ranked team (No. 1 Kansas) and its first over a Top 10 squad (No. 7 Texas) on the road since 1994. At one point during this crucial stretch, the Wildcats posted three wins over Top 25 teams (No. 20 Missouri to go with Kansas and Texas) in a five-game period for the first time in school history. In all, the squad earned six wins over ranked teams, falling just one short of the school record set just one season earlier in 2009-10.
A late season surge coupled with an already strong non-conference schedule enabled K-State to earn its third-highest seed - a No. 5 seed - to the NCAA Tournament in school history. The team was sent to the NCAA Southeast Regional to meet Western Athletic Conference (WAC) regular-season and tournament champion Utah State in the second round at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats were able to hold off a late rally from the Aggies in the second half to post a 73-68 victory, which marked the fifth consecutive season that the squad posted at least one postseason win.
For the second time in four seasons, K-State met a nationally-ranked Wisconsin team in the NCAA Tournament, and despite a Big 12 and school-record 38-point effort from Pullen, the Wildcats saw their season end in a narrow 70-65 defeat. Pullen, who became the first recruit to re-commit after Martin was elevated to head coach in 2007, rebounded from his early season issues to cement his name into K-State lore by eclipsing Mike Evans (1974-78) to become the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,132 points.
A two-time All-American, Pullen left the school as arguably one of its greatest players, owning seven career records, including wins (95), games played (135), double-digit scoring games (105), 3-point field goals (299) and steals (210), and ranking in the Top 5 in 17 total career categories.
The first player in school history to twice earn First Team All-Big 12 honors, Pullen gave Martin an All-American for the third time in four seasons in 2011, as he selected to the prestigious 10-man John R. Wooden Award squad. Pullen was also a third team selection by The Associated Press, State Farm/NABC, The Sporting News and Yahoo! Sports and a fourth team pick by FOXSports.com. In addition, Pullen was awarded the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Trophy, which is given annually to the nation's best player 6-foot or under by the Naismith Basketball of Fame.
In all, Martin has helped coach four All-Americans since he became head coach in 2007, including just the school's second consensus first team selection (Michael Beasley in 2008). Pullen became the first Wildcat to earn All-American honors twice in a career since Rolando Blackman in 1980 and 1981.
In addition to Pullen, who was one of just two players to earn unanimous First Team All-Big 12 honors in 2010-11, Martin also saw sophomore Rodney McGruder collect Third Team All-Big 12 honors from several media outlets, including the league coaches, in 2010-11. He has now coached a Big 12 Player, Newcomer and Freshman of the Year in his tenure, while a total of eight players have earned recognition to the first, second or third all-conference squad.
A HISTORIC SEASON Expectations were high prior to the 2009-10 season, but even those close to the team didn't know how great this collection of players would be. Armed with arguably the nation's top backcourt of All-Americans Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, Martin helped K-State shatter even those lofty expectations en route to the school's first Elite Eight appearance in 22 seasons.
Along the way, the team posted a school-record 29-8 overall record and a tie for second place in the Big 12, the nation's top RPI conference, with an 11-5 mark. The squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, where they earned their highest-ever (No. 2) seed in the "Big Dance." Once there, the Wildcats recorded three wins (North Texas, BYU and Xavier) at the tournament for just the fourth time in school history before a hard-fought 63-56 loss to eventual national runner-up Butler in the West Regional Final ended their remarkable season.
For its accomplishments, K-State finished in the Top 10 of both major polls, including seventh in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll, for the first time since ranking ninth in 1973. It was the highest final ranking for the Wildcats since concluding the 1961-62 season at No. 6 in The Associated Press poll. The team was ranked in the Top 10 for the last seven weeks of the season, including as high as No. 5 in both polls on March 1. The No. 5 ranking was the school's highest since being No. 3 in 1962.
The 29 wins shattered the previous school-record of 25 set by the 1950-51 national runner-up team and the 1987-88 Elite Eight squad, while the 11 conference victories and second-place finish were the highest of the Big 12 era and the highest since the 1987-88 season. In the process, the Wildcats recorded a school-record seven wins over nationally-ranked teams, including a 71-62 victory over No. 1 Texas before an ESPN "Big Monday" crowd on Jan 18 - the school's first over a top-ranked team since 1994.
In all, K-State set 23 team and individual records in 2009-10, including shattering the marks for scoring (2,949), field goals made (981), field goals attempted (2,182), 3-point field goals made (253), free throws made (734), free throws attempted (1,098) and blocked shots (187). Pullen set single-season records for games played (37) and started (37), double-digit scoring games (37), 3-point field goals (110) and steals (67), while Clemente and Curtis Kelly joined Pullen in breaking marks for games played and started to go with records for minutes played (1,284) and blocked shots (74), respectively.
For his efforts, Martin was the runner-up to Syracuse's Jim Boeheim for The Associated Press' National Coach of the Year in 2010, while he was a finalist for the Naismith Men's College Basketball Coach of the Year and CollegeInsider.com's Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year awards. In addition, he was a near unanimous choice for a number of Big 12 Coach of the Year awards, collecting them from the league coaches, AP, The Sporting News and Kansas City Star, while also earning District Coach of the Year accolades from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).
Already credited with coaching two NBA Draft picks, including 2009 NBA All-Rookie First Team selection Michael Beasley, Martin again tutored a pair of All-Big 12 performers in 2009-10, including first team selection Jacob Pullen. Pullen joined Beasley as the only Wildcats to earn recognition to the Big 12's first team since 1997. Denis Clemente repeated his selection to the league's second team, while sophomore Jamar Samuels became the second Wildcat in the past four seasons to earn the Big 12 Sixth Man Award. In addition to his second team all-conference award in 2008-09, Clemente became the first Wildcat to earn Phillips 66 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors. He was also ESPN.com's National Player of the Week on Feb. 2, 2009 after tying Beasley's Big 12 single-game scoring mark with 44 points in an overtime victory over No. 12 Texas on Jan. 31, 2009.
Pullen and Clemente also earned All-America distinction in 2009-10 with Pullen being named to the third team by The Sporting News and honorable mention by The Associated Press, while Clemente was selected to the fourth team by FOXSports.com. The duo became the second set of Wildcats to earn All-America honors in the same season under Martin following Michael Beasley and Bill Walker in 2007-08. Beasley became just the second player in school history to earn consensus first team All-America honors as a true freshman, while Walker was named to several freshman All-America squads.
A ROUGH START ENDS WELL In 2008-09, Martin illustrated why K-State administrators were convinced he was the perfect fit to follow Huggins two years earlier. Despite losing four starters, including two underclassmen to the NBA Draft, he guided K-State to a 22-12 record, including a tie for fourth place in the Big 12 standings with a 9-7 mark, and an at-large spot in the National Invitational Tournament. It marked the program's third consecutive 20-win season -- a feat not done in over 25 years - as well as its third straight postseason appearance. Once there, the Wildcats won a postseason game for the third year in a row - an 83-79 overtime thriller over Illinois State at home - before bowing out to top-seeded San Diego State in the second round.
Kansas State's trip to the postseason seemed improbable after the squad started Big 12 play with four consecutive losses. However, Martin helped right the Wildcats' ship with wins in eight of the next nine games, including six in a row from Jan. 24 to Feb. 11, as the squad became just the second in Big 12 history to rally from an 0-4 start and return to at least .500 in league play.
Along the way, K-State knocked off four teams that advanced to the postseason and recorded four consecutive road wins in league play for the first time since the 1979-80 season. The squad also swept NCAA Tournament teams Texas and Texas A&M on the road for the first time in the Big 12 era. In total, the Wildcats became just the fourth team since the start of the Big 12 (Iowa State in 2002-03 and 2004-05 and Nebraska in 2007-08) to start winless (0-4 or worse) in league play and advance to the postseason.
Junior Denis Clemente became the 12th player since 1970 to earn the conference's Newcomer of the Year trophy and the first to garner the Phillips 66 Newcomer of the Year award. He was one of two players listed on the all-conference team, joining honorable mention selection Jacob Pullen.
A REMARKABLE FIRST SEASON Martin's success in year two came on the heels of one of the most successful inaugural campaigns in Kansas State history in 2007-08. In his first season as a college head coach, he guided the Wildcats to a 21-12 overall record, including a third-place finish in the Big 12 with a 10-6 mark. The third-place conference finish was the best since the inception of the league and the highest since the 1988-89 team also finished third in the Big Eight, while the 10 league wins tied the 2006-07 squad for the most in the Big 12 era. For his efforts, he was named Big 12 Coach of the Year by CollegeInsider.com.
Martin became just the second rookie head coach in school history to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament and the first since Lon Kruger did it in 1986-87, as the squad advanced to the Big Dance for the first time since the 1995-96 season. Once there, Martin helped the program capture its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1988 with a thrilling 80-67 win over USC in the first round of the Midwest Regional in Omaha, Neb., on March 20. The squad lost to Wisconsin in the second round.
Martin became just the third head coach in school history to post 20 wins in his first season, joining Lon Kruger (20; 1986-87) and his mentor, Bob Huggins, (23; 2006-07), while he joined Huggins as the only rookie coaches to achieve 10 conference wins. In addition, Martin was one of only eight first-year coaches nationally to take his team to the NCAA Tournament in 2007-08 and joined Butler's Brad Stevens and former Drake coach Keno Davis as the only ones to accomplish the feat in their first year as a college head coach in that season.
Under Martin's tutelage, Michael Beasley posted one of the greatest seasons ever by a college freshman in NCAA history in 2007-08, as he averaged 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds per game in earning National Player of the Year honors from both CBS Sports.com and Rivals.com and National Freshman of the Year honors from CBS Sports.com, Rivals.com, CollegeHoops.net, The Sporting News and U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Beasley became just the second player in Kansas State history to earn consensus first team All-America honors and the first since Bob Boozer in 1959. In addition, he was named both the Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year by the league coaches and The Associated Press as well as a unanimous all-conference first team selection by nearly every media outlet.
In addition, Martin helped mentor freshman forward Bill Walker, who was named a third team freshman All-American by both CBS Sports.com and CollegeHoops.net and freshman All-American by CollegeInsider.com in 2007-08. He was named to the All-Big 12 second team by the Kansas City Star and third team selection by both the league coaches and The Associated Press.
Beasley and Walker were selected in the 2008 NBA Draft with Beasley going to the Miami Heat with the No. 2 pick and Walker going to the Washington Wizards (and later traded to the Boston Celtics) with the No. 47 pick in the second round. They became the first Wildcat teammates to be chosen in the same NBA Draft since 1982, while Beasley is the third highest draft pick in school history following Howard Shannon (1949) and Bob Boozer (1959), who both were selected with the No. 1 pick in their respective drafts. Beasley and Walker currently play for the Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks, respectively.
A NEW BEGINNING Martin was hired as the 23rd head men's basketball coach in school history on April 9, 2007 after spending one season as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator for Bob Huggins.
As Huggins' lead assistant, he helped the Wildcats to a 23-12 overall record in 2006-07, including a fourth-place finish in the Big 12 with a 10-6 mark. The 23 wins were its most wins since tallying 25 during the 1987-88 season, while the program posted 10 conference wins for the first time in the Big 12 era and for the first time since the Mitch Richmond-led `Cats earned 11 Big Eight wins in 1987-88. The squad also broke an eight-year postseason drought with its invitation to the MasterCard NIT, as the Wildcats earned their first postseason win in nearly 13 years with a 59-57 first-round victory over Vermont.
Martin also helped coach two all-conference players in 2006-07, as senior forward Cartier Martin was named the league's inaugural winner of the Sixth Man Award, while Martin was joined on the All-Big 12 second team by teammate David Hoskins. It marked the first time in the Big 12 era that the school had two players on the first, second or third all-conference team and the first time since Mike Evans and Curtis Redding were named first team All-Big Eight in 1977.
As recruiting coordinator, Martin helped K-State attract one of the nation's best recruiting classes in 2006 [No. 1 by Scout.com and Rivals.com], which included No. 1 recruit Michael Beasley and No. 6 Bill Walker. In 2008, he headed a staff that pulled down the school's second top-20 class in the past three seasons. The 2008-09 four-man class was rated 17th by Scout/ESPN.com and 18th by Rivals.com.
MARTIN JOINS THE COLLEGE RANKS Martin initially joined the K-State staff on April 5, 2006, after spending two seasons as an assistant coach at Cincinnati, first for Bob Huggins in 2004-05 and then for Andy Kennedy in 2005-06. He helped guide the Bearcats to a 46-21 (.686) overall record and back-to-back postseason appearances from 2004-06, including a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2005. Among Martin's duties with the program was the daily development of the program's big men.
Before joining Huggins' staff at Cincinnati in 2004, Martin spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Northeastern (2000-04), first for Rudy Keeling and then for Ron Everhart, where he earned much acclaim for his abilities as a recruiter. After back-to-back sub-par seasons, Martin helped the Huskies post their first winning season in eight years in 2002-03 with a 16-15 record and a win over cross-town rival and NIT participant Boston College. The following year, the team collected the school's best record in 11 seasons with a 19-11 record and a third-place finish in the America East Conference with a 13-5 mark. The 19 wins were the most by the school since the 1992-93 season, while the 13 league wins were the most since the 1986-87 season.
Martin helped coach eight all-conference players at Northeastern, including first team All-America East Conference selection and NBA World Champion and Dallas Maverick J.J. Barea in 2004. Barea became the first Husky player since 1989-90 to earn first team all-league honors, while, in 2005, he was named an AP honorable mention All-American, the Mid-Major Player of the Year by Collegeinsider.com and the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year. Martin also coached three players on the league's all-rookie team.
A SUCCESSFUL HIGH SCHOOL CAREER Prior to entering the college ranks in 2000, Martin spent 15 years in the high school coaching ranks in Miami, Fla., including the last seven as a head coach. He was a part of five state championships as an assistant at powerhouse Miami Senior High School from 1985-93 before collecting two titles as the Stingarees' head coach from 1995-99. In addition, he served two seasons as the coach at North Miami Senior High School (1993-95) and one season at Booker T. Washington High School (1999-2000).
Before leaving for Northeastern, Martin became head basketball coach at the newly-created Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Fla., in 1999 and his efforts enabled the first-year high school to garner Nike Elite honors, one of only 15 schools in the nation to earn that honor that season.
Martin returned to Miami Senior High School as head varsity coach in 1995 after longtime coach Marcos Rodriguez left to take the head coaching position at Florida International. Highlighting his three-year stint with the Stingarees were back-to-back 30-win seasons and consecutive Florida 6A State Championships in 1996 and 1997. Martin's 1996-97 squad posted a 36-1 overall record and was ranked No. 4 in the USA Today Top 25 poll. He helped develop 14 players who went on to play in the NCAA Division I ranks, including current NBA players Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat) and Steve Blake (Los Angeles Lakers). In addition, Martin saw all 21 of his players graduate with 19 of those attending college. When he left in 1999, Miami Senior was one of only 12 Nike Elite High School programs in the country.
Martin launched his career as a varsity head coach in 1993 when he took over at North Miami Senior High School. He earned 20 wins in his first season as head coach, which was the school's first 20-win season in 22 years. During his two-year tenure with the Pioneers, Martin posted a 39-16 (.709) overall record, which represented the most wins in a two-year period in school history in 35 seasons.
Martin began his coaching career at Miami Senior High School in 1985, where he served as the head junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach. During his eight-year stint with the Stingarees, he compiled a 140-30 (.824) overall record as the head junior varsity coach and guided the program to the city championship in six of his eight seasons. In the process, he also helped the varsity program achieve impressive heights while assisting Rodriguez. Martin helped guide the Stingarees to five Florida 4A State Championships (1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993) and an impressive 273-19 (.935) overall record. The team finished among the nation's top 10 in the USA Today Top 25 poll on six occasions during his tenure, including a program-best No. 2 following the 1988-89 season.
PERSONAL A native of Miami, Fla., Martin, 45, earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Florida International in 1993. He and his wife, Anya, have three children: Brandon, Amalia and Christian.