Brandon Martin spent his birthday Sunday where he has spent much of his life – at a basketball gymnasium.
The Cardinal Newman senior was at South Carolina watching his father, Gamecocks men’s basketball coach Frank Martin, run his team through a workout. It’s a familiar scene for the younger Martin. He has been doing it at his father’s different stops at Northeastern, Cincinnati, Kansas State and now at USC.
"Since I was five, I remember going and being around the gym. I just always have been in the gym with him," Brandon said. "It’s been a good experience. I really like hanging around with the USC staff and the university. It’s really nice."
Martin said days like Sunday are one of the benefits of having a father who is a coach on the Division I level. He said he tries to visit at USC as much as he can when he isn’t playing or practicing.
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Brandon said he learns a lot from watching his father and the USC players, especially Sindarius Thornwell, who scored 44 points and had 21 rebounds Tuesday against Alabama.
"I really look at Sindarius Thornwell real good because he is leader on the team. I listen to him and what he has to say," Martin said. "It is kind of cool having my dad as a coach at South Carolina. I can go watch his practices and learn things. I work out in weight room and play with the guys and stuff. It shows me what college is and prepares me for what I need to do to get better at the next level."
Martin is having his best season for the Cardinals, who are tied for the SCISA 1-3A lead and will likely be a top four seed when brackets for the state tournament are released next week.
The 6-foot-5 swingman is averaging 12.2 points and 7.8 rebounds, all career bests. He had 18 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday in the 79-77 overtime win over York Prep and was honored for his 500th career rebound.
"He did a lot of work in the weight room," Cardinal Newman coach Phillip Deter said. "He had those intangibles and just a matter of improving of his overall game from his ball handling to his shooting. When he first came here until now, he was dedicated to the weight room and the process and now you are seeing him reap the benefits."
Deter said you can tell he is a coach’s son because he knows the details of the game that you might have to explain to other players. Brandon said he and his father talk about basketball quite a bit, learning about X’s and O’s and a lot of "life lessons" he can apply to his game.
"He tells me to go out and play my hardest and tells me you can’t teach effort," Brandon said of his father’s advice. "He tells me no matter how bad I play to give 100 percent, be a good leader and motivate my teammates to do better."
Martin said the biggest thing he worked on in the offseason was his ball handling and coaches project him to play small forward in college. He is getting looks from mid-majors and Division II schools including Wofford, Presbyterian, The Citadel, Southeast Louisiana and Newberry.
He said there is a possibility of walking on to play for his dad and hopes to have his college decision made in the spring.
And like his father, Martin wants to enter coaching when his playing days are done.
"I want to be a coach. I don’t know at what level. I want to be a positive role model for them," Martin said.