Mar 26, 2024 3:24 PM

Rising above the rim

Posted Mar 26, 2024 3:24 PM
Photo by John Lovretta
Photo by John Lovretta

By Chris Faulkner

Brady Martin has had a variety of teammates as a four-year varsity player for West Burlington’s boys basketball team.

He’s enjoyed success in all four of those seasons from a team perspective and set high standards personally.

Martin finished his career earlier this month with a trip to Des Moines for the Class 2A state tournament. The Falcons lost to Treynor in the first round and finished with a near-flawless 22-1 mark.

Martin set the school record for points (1,142), assists (223), steals (188) and 3-pointers made (168). The 6-foot point guard also blocked 24 shots in his four-year stint as a Falcon.

Of all those stats, “I like 3-pointers probably the most,” Martin said.

“Every day I get in the gym in the off-season, and I work on my shot.” He said he would shoot 500 3-pointers a day.

Martin started six games his freshman season, and the Falcons lost to Camanche in the substate finals. Martin’s sophomore year saw a 12-12 mark, but West Burlington still made it to the district finals. Last year the team lost in the substate finals but set a school record for victories with 22, against two losses. This year’s team went unbeaten all the way to state before finally getting a loss.

Did the players feel extra pressure along the way?

“We always knew we had to push each other in practice,” Martin said. “We knew that someday we were going to get beat, we just didn’t know when.”

His ability to shine with different lineups stems from knowing, “It all comes down to how we can play as a team. Basketball isn’t a one-player sport. You’ve got to be able to play with all your teammates. It’s all about building relationships with all the kids on my team and being able to communicate with each other.”

Martin began his basketball career at the YMCA, but he joined the Hustlers travel team as a third-grader. He played with several Southeast Iowa players.

He played for his father, Tracy Martin, and Southeastern Community College men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Watkins, whose son Mason is a junior teammate of Martin’s.

“They help me work on my skills to help me become the player that I am today,” Martin said.

Ryan O’Hern coached him during his first three seasons. 

“He taught me how to be a leader,” Martin said, “how to bring my teammates up and play at a higher level. He always pushed me to be better.”

O’Hern left after Martin’s junior year, but Cody VanFleet came in and led the team to state.

“The good thing about Cody was he just let us play and let us players figure out what we needed to get done,” Martin said.

Success was common this season, but there’s always a bad game or two. So for the mental part of Martin’s game, “In my head, I think ‘next play’ every time. You don’t want to hold your head down too long. There’s another day. There’s always going to be a tomorrow,” he said.

Martin had four fellow seniors on the team. They didn’t get to play as much, but Martin said they still were valuable to the team.

On Conner Bush: “Conner is a great leader. He’s very vocal. In practice, he always helps kids learn. He lifts everyone up.”

On Seena Nowroozie: “Seena is a big guy, a great dude who came off the bench. He knew his role, and he contributed by getting good rebounds for us.”

On Seth McGinity:  “He’s another big guy for us. He helps us throughout the off-season. He put in that work. He got hurt in one of our pre-season practices, but he never quit, and he always had great energy on the bench.”

On Reed Mercer: “He didn’t get to play that much, but he always had great energy. After any bad practice or any bad game for a player, he would lift them up. He was a great teammate.”

Martin said he is a “very disciplined player on the court, and I’m pretty disciplined off the court too.”

So that helps him manage academics with athletics, and with a 3.8 grade point average, he’s nearly a straight-A student. His favorite class is woodworking.

Martin is off and running for track season, but he hopes to continue his basketball career somewhere.

“I will decide that in April,” he said. “I’ll be majoring somewhere in the health field.”