Martins decision to stay in Nevada difficult

Published 9:44 am Thursday, July 5, 2018

How tough was the decision for the Martin twins on whether to turn pro or return to school for their senior seasons at Nevada?

Even mother Jenny’s emotions were swaying back and forth.

“We asked her: ‘What would you do if you were in our position?’” Caleb Martin told the Reno Gazette-Journal in the twins’ first public comments since the March 30 deadline day. “At first she said: ‘I would go. I would leave.’ And then 10 minutes later she said: ‘Oh, I think I would stay.’”

While the Martins’ decision to return to school was an enormous moment for Nevada Wolf Pack basketball, it came on the heels of whirlwind travel and many stressful days for the Martins.

On decision day, with the clock ticking, the Martins drove to their mother’s house. The night before, Caleb went to sleep thinking he was headed to the NBA draft.

“I wasn’t coming back,” Caleb told beat writer Chris Murray.

Two hours before the midnight (Eastern time) deadline, Caleb changed his mind. His injured left foot was the biggest reason for that.

“With my foot injury, I would have had to go through like six more workouts before the draft, and then summer league and training camp and individually working out,” he said. “I was trying to figure out a time I could rest my foot, get 100 percent while working out and staying in shape. It was kind of impossible to be in the best shape of my life, rest my foot and work on my shot at the same time. I couldn’t do all that and get healthy. I would start off bad.”

Caleb’s foot was injured in early February, resulting in a Lisfranc sprain. He missed only one game, plowing on to help the Wolf Pack make an head-turning run to the Sweet 16. But Caleb’s foot remains in a boot.

As Murray wrote: “As he went through the pre-draft process, (Caleb) felt like he had to play below the rim because of the injury. When he does turn pro after this year, he wants to be fully prepared to make a team rather than limp through the training camp battles.”

Caleb said: “I didn’t want to call it ‘playing it safe’ if we came back, but I guess it is kind of like that. Honestly, I think I was making a smart decision, not a safe decision. We were each making individual decisions. We were trying to figure out what would be the best for us in the long run. When we come out, we want to be the best pro we can be to jump right into it rather than making it harder than it had to be. I want to make sure I’m in good health when I come out, ready to be the best pro I can be.”

Cody was torn, too. The day before the deadline, Cody was opposite of Caleb, leaning toward a return to school. They finally reached their final decisions with one hour, 51 minutes on the clock.

“I think everybody thought we were messing with them, and we were out there toying with people like we made our decision three days ago,” Cody said. “It was really like an hour and a half before the deadline where we said: ‘We just have to make a decision. If you don’t make a decision, you have no choice in it.’ We ended up sitting down one final time, and that’s when we came to the decision that coming back was in our best interest and will pay off in the long run.

“You’re putting all your faith and trust in coach (Eric Musselman). Just believing and doing everything he says, it pans out. He knows what he’s talking about and he’s a great coach and he has our best interest at heart. It wasn’t a wrong decision to come back to school and put our careers in his hands in terms of what we can do.”

Not only will Nevada be the prohibitive favorite in the Mountain West Conference in 2018-19, it will have enough power on the roster to illuminate a small city. It could become the finest team in school history – in any sport.

Murray again: “Their return cemented the Wolf Pack as one of the nation’s top teams on paper entering next season. The Wolf Pack has an embarrassingly deep and diverse roster of players who have already produced at the college level (eight players who have averaged at least 13 points per game in a Division-I season), not to mention a McDonald’s All-American in Jordan Brown. Fans are buying season tickets in record numbers and the preseason expectations – Final Four or bust? – are also of historic proportions.

Cody is already guarding against the mountainous hype.

“Everybody wants to win a national championship,” he said. “But we understand how hard it is to even make the Sweet 16. That’s extremely hard. We were down 14 (against Texas) and 22 (against Cincinnati) at one point (in last year’s NCAA Tournament). We can set these expectations but it doesn’t begin when the tournament starts. It doesn’t start when the first game starts. This whole summer is huge for us and for our team and how much work we put in. If you mess around and take shortcuts and don’t think it’s going to bite you in the butt, it’s going to.”

When the Martins first arrived in Reno in the spring of 2017, they could roam the community and remain anonymous. That is long gone now.

“You have little kids running up to you and stuff,” Cody said. “I like it because you’re a role model to those kids and you impact those kids’ lives that you’ve never even met. I’ve had little kids message me on social media saying: ‘I’m your biggest fan.’ You’re impacting kids’ lives who are maybe across the country and they’re one of your biggest fans and you don’t even think about that throughout your daily routine. I just think it’s cool I can make an impact on certain kids, and even older adults look up to us. It’s really cool to be able to set a good example for them.”