Kings recruit reveals NBA ambition

If you thought Sydney Kings import big man Jarell Martin was impressive on debut, you haven’t seen anything yet.

That is the emphatic message from Martin, who has vowed to produce his best in the NBL as he looks to use the league as a platform back to the NBA.

The former Memphis and Orlando centre came off the bench in the Kings’ season opener against Cairns, delivering an eye-catching performance with 11 points and eight rebounds in just 15 minutes on the floor.

It wasn’t a bad effort from a bloke who hadn’t played a professional game of basketball for almost a year due to the coronavirus pandemic and had endured two weeks of quarantine before joining his new Sydney teammates.

Martin was relatively happy with his maiden effort in the NBL, but he knows he still has plenty left in the tank heading into Saturday’s rematch against the Taipans in Cairns from 8pm.

“I definitely have a lot to prove and showcase for the fans,” Martin said.

“I wish I could have played more minutes on debut, but the coaching staff want to ease me in.

“I pretty much had no practices with the team, so we collectively decided to not just go out there and ramp it up to risk myself from any injuries.

“I’m definitely looking forward to this weekend to get more game time and I’m ready to take advantage of it.

“It (my form) is going to come; I’ve just got to slowly stick with the process of building me back up again, but I’m not going to let my fans down, and I’m going to go out there and give it my all for them.”

Former NBA big man Jarell Martin wants to help the Sydney Kings win the NBL championship. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Martin’s determination to reach his potential will be music to the ears of Sydney fans, especially following the retirement of champion big man Andrew Bogut.

The Kings desperately need an effective centre if they are going to compete with the NBL’s championship contenders, like Melbourne United.

In Martin, Sydney have a former first-round NBA draft pick who possesses the ability to run the floor and be a fearsome presence in the paint.

The 26-year-old Baton Rouge native most recently played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in NBA G-League and with the Schenzhen Leopards in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Martin declared for the 2015 NBA Draft and was selected with the 25th overall pick by the Grizzlies where he spent three seasons.

He averaged 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44.6 per cent from the field during the 2017-18 season.

Martin would love to return to the NBA but first he is focused on helping the Kings win an NBL championship.

“I definitely want to get another shot in the NBA, but my main goal is to try and do the best I can to put my team in a position,” he said.

“After speaking with my agent, I just felt like it would be a great situation and fit for me to come out here to Australia.

“I could also help the team win games.”

New Sydney Kings big man Jarell Martin says he will only improve after his first hitout in the NBL. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Martin first came across the NBL after watching online highlight reels of former Cairns guard DJ Newbill dominating for the Taipans.

“I used to watch DJ when he was down here playing,” Martin said of Newbill, who is now playing in Japan.

“I always felt like it was a great league and the best league outside of the NBA.

“It is a great pace, and you can get up and down the floor, which is a good aspect of my game.

“For a big man I can run the floor, so I love the pace of the game in the NBL.”

Martin’s maiden months in the NBL haven’t been easy, especially as the league navigates the global coronavirus pandemic, but he isn’t complaining.

Instead, he is enjoying the chance to spend more time with his new teammates on the road in Queensland.

“It definitely helps – we can spend time bonding and we can go over our film with the coaches,” he said.

“It has been a bit challenging, but with this profession and playing basketball you seem to be always travelling to play.

“That is especially the case in the States.

“I’ve never tried to look at the negative side, and I try to stay positive and focus on the things we have to achieve.”

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