By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Head coach Steve Payne announced the signing of USF graduate transfer Malik Martin to the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team on Tuesday.
A 6-foot-11, 214-pound forward, Martin joins the Golden Eagles after spending the previous two seasons at USF. The Miami, Fla. native began his career at USC, transferring to USF after two seasons with the Trojans.
"In Malik, you have a super talented kid that is ready to have a breakout year and wants to have a breakout year. He's just an uber-talented guy. He was a top-100 player coming out of high school and has been in the Pac-12 and American Athletic Conferences. We're thankful to have him. Coach Gillion has done an excellent job in recruiting him and has a great relationship with him. I promised him we would push him to be the very best player he can possibly be. He's the kind of player you can win the league with; we just need to get it out of him."
Martin will be immediately eligible to compete and have one year remaining in his collegiate career.
"I have a good relationship with Coach [Gerald] Gillion," Malik cited as one of the main reasons for selecting to continue his education and career at Tech. "That played a big part in my decision. I know the style of play that Coach Payne uses will fit my game. I plan on being a leader on the team. I want to come in and help us win games, an OVC Championship and get to the big dance. I think we have a good chance to do that."
After sitting out the 2016-17 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Martin appeared in all 32 games with seven starts for the Bulls during the 2017-18 campaign. He averaged 6.4 points and a team-high 4.7 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game.
On Nov. 24, the big man recorded his first career double-double, scoring a career-high 24 points and snagging 10 boards against Arkansas State. He hauled in a career-high 11 rebounds at Appalachian State on Dec. 2. He saved one of his best performances for late in the season, posting nine rebounds and 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting at Memphis. Martin shot an unconscious 72.7 percent from the field of the season's last seven games.
USF's leader in field goal percentage (.582) last season, Martin also displayed the ability to step outside the paint and knock down the occasional trey, finishing 9-for-19 for a 47.4 3-point shooting percentage. He also ranked first on the Bulls' roster with 30 blocks and 46 offensive rebounds.
"He's a skilled, long, athletic guy," Payne explained about Martin's skill set. "He's never going to be a 260-pound post player. He's a four-man in the framework that he can step out and hit the three, he can drive the ball and he can post. His skill package is very high and his ability to play within the style of offense we run should be a great match. A big key for Malik is can he be a double-digit rebounder night-in and night-out. We ought to be a better rebounding team with him in the mix. He is going to bring a lot of versatility to the game from a skill stand point. We're very excited to have him as part of this team and can't wait to get him here on campus."
While at USC, Martin averaged 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds during his freshman campaign, leading the Trojans with a 52.4 shooting percentage. As a sophomore he averaged 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 6.6 minutes per game.
Martin was a standout as a senior in high school, dominating at Faith Baptist in Brandon, Fla. He averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds per game and was the No. 4-ranked player in Florida according to 247Sports.com, the No. 33 power forward by Scout.com and the No. 109 overall prospect according to Rivals.com. Prior to Faith Baptist, Martin averaged 17.2 points per game in his final season at Northeast High in Miami.
"I'm just excited to get to Cookeville and get to work," Martin said. "I plan on putting in a ton of work during the summer. I think is going to be a big season for myself and the team. I think we are going to surprise some people."
Photos courtesy of Travis Pendergrass, USF Athletics