UConn men’s basketball’s Tyrese Martin ready for next step after NBA draft: ‘Proud of myself’

Photo of David Borges

Tyrese Martin was drafted in the second round of the NBA draft on Thursday night, landing with the Atlanta Hawks as the only Big East player selected in this year’s draft.

He attended a ceremony proclaiming June 24 “Tyrese Martin Day” in his hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Friday, will fly down to Atlanta on Sunday and head out to Las Vegas on July 5 to begin NBA Summer League play.

Not bad for a guy who didn’t earn any postseason honors from his league this season.

“Only Big East guy drafted,” Martin pointed out, “and didn’t even make honorable mention. But that’s all right.”

Indeed, Martin holds no grudges. His postseason snub may have fueled him in the Big East Tournament (he was named to the all-tourney team), but he’s over it.

“It’s not that it bothers me,” he told Hearst Connecticut Media on Saturday afternoon. “It just goes to show that those awards really don’t mean anything. Players are players, at the end of the day.”

Martin certainly showed he was a player this past season at UConn, averaging 13.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 43 percent from 3-point range. He showed even more at the Portstmouth Invitational, earning an invite to the NBA G League Elite Camp and was impressive during several workouts with NBA teams over the past few weeks.

On Thursday night, he knew Atlanta was one of three teams interested in drafting him, along with Orlando and San Antonio. When it was announced that Golden State was trading its pick at No. 51 to the Hawks, and reports began circulating that Martin would be selected, his friends and family gathered at a local restaurant, hid his cell phone and kept him away from the news as much as possible.

When Martin’s name was announced, a lot of hard work, from two years at Rhode Island to the past two at UConn, had finally paid off.

“I’m very excited, I couldn’t be more proud of myself,” Martin noted. “But it doesn’t stop here.”

Martin said he truly valued his two seasons in Storrs.

“I learned a lot from my time there,” he said. “(Dan) Hurley, Kimani (Young), Coach (Tom) Moore and Coach (Luke) Murray for the one year he was there, they pushed me to limits I didn’t know. They made me uncomfortable every day in practice for times like this, to where I was able to be my best when I needed to be, at the right time. They prepared me for that.”

But, as Tyrese Martin noted, it doesn’t stop here.