Curtis standout Martin chooses Rhode Island
As he sat and watched his team practice and play, sidelined with a torn ligament in his finger, Hassan Martin thought his hopes of playing high-level college basketball had eluded him.
“That was the lowest point in my life,” the Curtis senior said. “I hated watching practice and watching games, not being able to play.”
A high point for the 6-foot-7 shot blocking force and rebounding machine came Sunday morning when he verbally committed to the University of Rhode Island.
Martin made the decision when he returned to Staten Island after a weekend official visit, choosing URI over Providence and St. Joseph University.
“It feels good,” he said. “When I was hurt I did not think this was going to happen. I thought it was over, but I just stayed with it and when the summer came, I played hard and good things happen.”
Perhaps more than anyone in the city, Martin increased his profile during the AAU circuit with New Heights. Using the pain he felt for missing most of his junior year as added motivation, Martin helped his team win the Memorial Day Super 16 Showcase and reach the finals of the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis and the Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas.
“That definitely motivated me,” Martin said. “I thought about it every day, about how bad I wanted to play. Every day can be your last day. It just made me stronger.”
Colleges took notice, with Providence, Iowa State, Rhode Island, St. Joseph’s and Fordham among those to offer Martin, who said the recruiting process became pretty stressful.
“It got overwhelming at one point,” he said. “It was crazy. I wasn’t even answering my phone.”
The one constant throughout the process, though, was URI. The new coaching staff of Dan and Bobby Hurley, as well as Jimmy Carr, appeared to be the most interested in securing Martin’s commitment.
“Rhode Island is the ones who showed the most interest throughout,” Curtis coach Rich Buckheit said. “I’m glad he chose them because of that. For all of them to love him that much, it really makes you feel good that he’s in really good hands.”
Buckheit isn’t surprised Martin’s recruitment exploded during the summer. He said he saw the potential a year ago.
“We knew he was going to be special with the way he came out of the gate in his junior year,” Buckheit said. “He was a dynamic player for us in the first two months of the season. We knew his base would start to grow larger.”
Martin said he felt at home during his weekend visit and liked what he heard from the URI players. He originally planned on waiting until the spring to make his college choice, but that changed following a weekend in Kingston.
“I like the coaches a lot, I trust them,” Martin said. “I think we can really rebuild this program and become a big-time school, a powerhouse.”