sportsFebruary 7, 2024
Rob Martin steps up as SEMO's new point guard, leading in assists and scoring while crafting his unique legacy post-Phillip Russell's departure.
Isaiah Collins ~ Sports Editor
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Blake Schowalter

“Starting at point guard, standing at 5 ‘10 out of St. Louis, Mo, #1…Rob Martin.”

After losing Phillip Russell to the transfer portal, SEMO men’s basketball is led by a new floor general, sophomore guard Rob Martin.

Although the natural comparisons between the two might arise, Martin is not letting those affect him.

“I just play basketball, that’s the thing. I go out there and play basketball. As long as I’m having fun, everything else is gonna take care of itself,” Martin said.

In his debut season with the Redhawks, Martin is leading the team in assists averaging 3.3 assists per game, placing him fifth in assists in the entire Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). Junior guard Dylan Branson said he isn’t surprised because he knows how much Martin puts into the game.

“Rob’s a guy who’s always in the gym putting his work in, watching film and doing all the small stuff. So it doesn’t come as a surprise to me. I knew he was gonna be doing well for us this season,” Branson said.

The Redhawks have had their eyes on Martin since his high school days at Christian Brothers High School playing for legendary coach Justin Tatum, father of Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum. As a senior Martin led his team to a Missouri 6A state championship and the number two ranking in the state. For his efforts, Martin was named Missouri 6A player of the year and St. Louis Post Dispatch All-Metro Player of the year.

SEMO head coach Brad Korn said that although Martin was on their radar in high school, the Redhawks were already set at the position.

“We had watched him out of high school. I’ve known his high school coach, Justin Tatum for a long time,” Korn said. “We had DQ Nichols and Phil Russell so there was no need, he wasn’t going to come to SEMO out of high school.”

Nichols transferred to Gardner-Webb after the 2021-22 season, followed a year later by Russell, who entered the portal after the Redhawks 2023 NCAA tournament run came to an end. This opened the door for Martin who had recently transferred from Indiana State.

Martin said that he ended up choosing SEMO due to his relationship with Coach Korn, and him feeling a natural fit in SEMO’s pick & roll offense. Korn echoed the sentiment, saying that they would not have been as sold without the prior relationship.

“To have a prior relationship, knowing who he was, we didn’t just grab somebody on the portal just because,” Korn said. “Just his dynamic playmaking, just being that true point guard was appealing.”

Aside from his playmaking prowess Martin leads the Redhawks in scoring averaging 11.8 points per game on the season, while shooting 43% from the field and 39% from three point range. After playing in only twelve games in his freshman year with Indiana State, where he only averaged 5.5 minutes per game and scored 11 total points, Martin is excelling in the eyes of his head coach.

“A year ago he didn’t really play, this is essentially his freshman year. He’s done what’s been expected. It’s hard to play that [point guard] position. So when everyone is expecting a lot from you, especially with the whole that was left behind at that position,” Korn said.