July 13, 2012
By Mark Janssen
Cartier Martin defines himself as “a grinder,” and grind he did in 2011-12. So much so, in fact, that he added a tattoo to his left arm saying, “Beware of the grind.”
Martin, K-State’s seventh all-time leading scorer with 1,546 points, played for Jim Wooldridge (three years) and Bob Huggins (one season) between 2003-04 and 2006-07, earning Second Team All-Big 12 honors twice, and the Big 12’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2007.
Now in 2012, the Houston, Texas, native is still grinding away.
This past year when the NBA was in strike-mode, Martin opted to start his season in the Chinese Basketball Association where he played for the Jilin Northeast Tigers. Over a 30-game season, Martin blazed the nets for a 26.3-point scoring average, plus he controlled 4.7 rebounds per game. In one game, he netted 49 points.
Of the playing experience, Martin, who has also played internationally in Italy and Turkey, said, “It allowed me to handle the ball more and work on some of the things I needed to improve on as a two-guard.”
Of the overall experience in China, he said, “We were almost in Russia. It was a shock, especially due to the food. You go over there and think the Chinese food is the same, but it’s not even close. But the competition was very good. I wanted to go make a little money.”
Back home in the United States, Martin’s “grind” took him back to the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League, where he averaged 18.3 points in seven games before he got the call from the Washington Wizards just hours prior to when he was supposed to lace up his tennis shoes in Erie, Pa.
So instead of playing in a game that was the completion of a contest that had been postponed 18 days earlier due to a sticky floor, Martin threw some belongings into a carry-on and was off his room at the Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter as compared to the Erie Fairfield Inn.
“They could’ve told me to sleep on the streets and I wouldn’t care,” Martin told Wizard Insider. “I was just happy to be back.”
Martin’s NBA career included 33 games with Charlotte in 2008-09, 10 with Golden State and eight more with Washington in 2009-10, 52 games with the Wizards in 2010-11, and the final 17 games of the just-completed 2012 campaign.
For his 120-game career, the 6-foot-7 Martin has had six starts and scored a total of 594 points, which included 37-percent accuracy from three-point range from his small forward/shooting guard playing position.
Of the call-up, Washington team president Ernie Grunfield told the Washington Post, “We keep track of these players in the minor leagues, and we try to make a decision based on what kind of player we need. Cartier was right at the top of the list.”
In his 17 games, the 27-year-old Martin averaged 9.3 points in his 23 minutes per game playing time.
“It’s tough on your body and tough on your mind,” Martin told the Washington Post. “It can get stressful, but you just have to fight through. You don’t know when your next move is going to be, where you’re going to be in a week, and when you’ll see your family again. You just keep grinding and hope it pays off.”
On his overall grind of a career, Martin said, “I’ve been blessed. God was watching over me and I got a call-up. It gave me a chance to get back in the best league.”
TWO TEAMS GIVING PULLEN AN OPPORTUNITY: Jacob Pullen is presently listed on rosters of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns for 2012 NBA Summer League play.
Playing in Italy last year, Pullen averaged 16.0 points over 32 games. He shot 42 percent overall, and 34 percent from three-point range.
MORE ON EX-CATS: Dennis Clemente, playing for Nitra of the Slovak Basketball Association, averaged 17.9 points over 34 games. He shot 56 percent from the field.
Curtis Kelly played for Hapoel Tel Aviv and helped lead his squad to the league title by averaging a team-high 16.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Kelly is competing at the high level of basketball in Israel.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.