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University of Cincinnati fifth-year senior point guard Sam Martin is a 'true Bearcat'

Walk-on hoops player earns significant respect
Posted at 4:49 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 22:50:54-05

CINCINNATI — The noise inside Fifth Third Arena was deafening for the final University of Cincinnati men's basketball player introduced during Senior Night last weekend.

As fifth-year senior point guard Sam Martin stepped onto the court, he was joyously embraced by the fans in a moment of his life he won't ever forget.

"I couldn't even really hear myself think at that point," Martin said. "Coach (Wes Miller) was talking and I couldn't even hear what he was saying at that point."

The 5-foot-11 walk-on from Summit Country Day High School made his second career start that night of Feb. 26. Each of the 10 minutes he's played this season have meant the world to him.

"It was kind of like a culmination of the last five years," said Martin, who has been on the UC scout team since his freshman season in 2017. "The fans have been unbelievable to me since my first year here when we played our home games at NKU. Saturday was kind of the cherry on top."

Martin, 23, doesn't often have many sundaes as a scout team player, but his selfless role is to help his teammates and coaches succeed.

"Behind closed doors he's the hardest-working player out there," UC junior guard Jeremiah Davenport said. "In practice it's crazy what coach wants him to do and he doesn't complain at all. I'm talking about injuries, whatever. He's going to fight through it."

That daily toughness was always evident in Martin. Blood, sweat and tears isn't a cliche to Martin. He's a "true Bearcat," UC head coach Wes Miller said.

"The guy has more injuries than a prize fighter," Miller said earlier this season. "He's so beat up and he's played so many years of college basketball. And he comes in and does the scout team every day. And gets banged on every day. And never says boo."

Martin added to his collection of memorable injuries a few years ago during a rebounding drill in which he was tasked with boxing out former UC 6-foot-9 forward Mamoudou Diarra.

Martin received an elbow near his forehead and started to bleed on the court.

"Everybody starts running away from me," Martin said. "I just had blood gushing down my face. I thought it was just sweat."

Regardless of blood or sweat, Martin said the daily sacrifice is well worth it as a lifelong UC fans. He wouldn't have his experience as a UC student-athlete any other way.

Martin has an undergraduate degree in finance and is working on his graduate degree in business analytics.

"It's been pretty cool to see him grow as an individual, a young man - now he's turned into a pretty mature, responsible young man," said Summit Country assistant boys basketball coach Scott Martin, Sam's father.

"You see the hard work that's he put in. You see the stress that he goes through trying to do what his team and his coaches want and also try to do what his professors want because he's at a high level of both of them."

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University of Cincinnati fifth-year senior point guard Sam Martin said the Senior Night recognition at Fifth Third Arena was a very special moment before he made his second career start for the Bearcats.

Coaching may be in Sam's future at some point, but for now he's trying to soak in every moment with his teammates and help them succeed.

UC concludes the regular season at Southern Methodist University Thursday night with the American Athletic Conference tournament next week.

Martin doesn't want to think about the end of his college basketball career. He's just grateful for all the relationships he's built with players, coaches and the support staff over the years.

"I've always been a really competitive person," Martin said. "I just want to win. Everybody has a role and I learned that I'm a very adaptable person and can be in a lot of different roles and a lot of different situations."