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Martin: "Can't wait to come and play basketball"

 Hassan Martin tells his life story through and from what he has to say, it only becomes obvious that nothing can be stand in his way when his mind is set on a specific goal…

He was born on Novmeber 12, 1995 at New York's Staten Island and is a member of a 9 people family! More specifically he has six brothers, with the youngest one at 6 years of age and the oldest at 30.

So, how was life in a home full of kids? "Fun! I never got bored. My childhood was full of games, competitiveness, laughter but also minor confrontations. However, games were dominating our lives… we would be playing basketball, football… My father, who had been involved with basketball at a younger age, "pushed" us into sports. My mother, although never being involved with sports, was never discouraging of our engagement and was always supportive. However, she was also the one to discipline the family. She was very strict. We had to do our homework and all of our chores before being allowed to play".

The average height of the Martin family sons is above 6, 2" (1.90m !) and this is probably thanks to mom's genes. "My dad had said so at some point that the fact we are all tall is due to my mom. She's 5.9" (1.80m), same as my dad. But she's really tall for a woman".


Although sports entered his life and that of his brothers really early on, his … love for the orange ball did not come at first sight… not even at second one… "To be honest, I hated basketball when I was little. I really liked football. My father had tried to 'push' me towards basketball at the time, but to no avail… Up until I was 14, when I decided out of nowhere that I do really like basketball and want to get engaged with it. I was really bad at it at the beginning; however, I put some truly hard work in it for a whole summer and made huge progress. All the more, I had gotten taller and by the time I was 15 I dunked for the first time. That closed the deal! I had fallen in love with basketball".


It took the Olympiacos' center time to realize his love for basketball, but it did not take him long to decide that his future would be inextricably entwined with it. "I had decided since being in high school that I wanted to become a professional basketball player. I had dreamt of becoming a professional NFL player at a younger age, however, my dream afterwards would be that I one day play for the NBA and play basketball at a professional level in general". 

Although he knew early on what his path in life was going to be, he never neglected his academic studies. That's the reason anyway he chose to attend Rhode Island. "I decided to go to a small college, because I wanted to pay attention to my studies, which is exactly what I did. However, a new coach came, we made a very good group, and we worked hard, continued improving and succeeded in changing levels". While Martin was in Rhode Island, they won the division championship during the 2016-17 season and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.


The humble but 'quietly' confident "Hassy" (that's how his team mates described him), had a major contribution towards this huge success and it was only fair that the spotlight was on him. However, the joy was double for him, since he got his degree the same season. To be precise, he got a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies. "Getting a college education had been in my 'list of to do things' not only for me, but also for my mom and dad. They were very happy to watch me succeed on and off courts. This is a guiding example for my younger brothers as well, that is I had to do really well at school".


His next goad was to try for an NBA spot, but remaining undrafted changed his plans. "Truth is I was really upset. I had expected to be a second round pick. But it didn't happen. Nevertheless, I wasn't disappointed, nor it ever crossed my mind to give up and not do what I had decided to. I went to a summer camp, got to meet important people and finally decided to begin my professional career in Japan with the Ryukyu Golden Kings".


Talking about his stay at the Rising Sun's country, he said: "It was a cultural shock at the beginning, because I had never travelled outside the US. I adjusted quickly though. This is one my personal traits. Being away from my people does not affect me, because I'm doing what I really love. I play basketball and I'm always really focused on it. Japan had been a great experience and a very beautiful country, however the level of the League wasn't what I had hoped it would be and that's why I left".

His next stop was Bayreuth (Germany) and he had to get acclimated to a totally different situation once again. "The differences between college basketball, Japanese basketball and the European game are many… The game is more physical in Europe, but still, I had no problem adjusting. On the contrary".  

He succeeded in making an impact wearing the Buducnost jersey last season and had already decided he was going to take the next big step in his career. "I had a good season with Buducnost and was able to show a few good elements of my game. However, my goal had always been to go even higher… So yes … I was waiting for an opportunity to come my way and take it and Olympiacos gave it to me! I had wanted to change levels and play for the Euroleague. It's the top League in Europe". 


The 24-year old center did not find it hard at all to say yes to the 'reds' offer. "I did not contemplate about it. Olympiacos has a great history. They have won back to back European championships and that means a lot. I had to the chance to watch many Euroleague games last season and a lot of Olympiacos' ones among them. They have many good players with their roster and of course they have Vassilis Spanoulis. He's a great player and it's going to be really enjoyable playing together".

When asked to talk about the strong and weak aspects of his game, he said: "I'm athletic, good blocker, good defended, I play aggressive defense and can guard many positions. I'm also efficient in finishing plays in the post. On the other hand what I definitely need to work on and improve is my long range shot and free throws".

Finally, his message to the 'reds' fans is clear: "They should be assured that I will be giving 100% in every game. They should also be ready to watch impressive dunks on my side as well as some great games. I can't wait to meet them, I can't wait to experience the atmosphere in the gym, I can't wait to come and play basketball!".


Did you know that...

*He has a 2.16 m wing span and a verified vertical jump of 97 cm!

* Malik Martin (one of his younger brothers) is studying at Rhode Island and is one of the star players of his team.
* He has a daughter a little shy of one year of age!