PRINCETON: Martell part of URI winningest class

Hun graduate shares in 90 wins with men’s basketball team

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   Will Martell knew there were people who thought he may have shot a little high when he decided to go to the University of Rhode Island to play basketball after his post-graduate year at The Hun School.
   ”My freshman year I wasn’t a high-profile recruit by any means,” Martell recalled. “URI was the highest offer I had coming out of high school and I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. But I liked the campus and the coaches. I had no sense of how good we could be.”
   Martell may not have been a high-profile recruit coming out of Hun, but he certainly made the most of his career with the Rams. In each of his four years, the team won at least 20 games, ending his career this past Monday with a 66-54 loss to Central Florida in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational.
   Martell and his three senior classmates — Delroy James, Marquis Jones and Ben Eaves — finished their careers with 90 wins, a school record for URI.
   ”Part of the reason we were able to maintain a lot of consistency was that everyone always strived to improve every off-season. Our point guard, Marquis Jones, didn’t come in as a good shooter and eventually he shot 35 percent from 3-point range. Delray James was not a high-profile recruit but he turned into one of the best players in the Atlantic 10 and could be drafted into the NBA. I was not good player, but I was able to build myself into a good player.”
   Ultimately, Martell did not achieve his No. 1 goal at Rhode Island, which was to get to the NCAA tournament. But he was part of one of the best four-year stretches in school history and has played in the post-season all four years — three in the NIT and this year in the CBI.
   ”We didn’t really achieve what we wanted to, which was to make the NCAA tournament, but it was cool to win 90 games,” said Martell, a resident of Rumson. “We averaged 22.5 wins a year which is pretty good. We had 21 my freshman year, 23 as a sophomore, 26 last year and then 20 as senior.”
   The expectations were high for Martell when he arrived at URI. As a freshman he played in 13 games and scored just three points. But by midway through his sophomore year the 7-footer became a fixture in the starting lineup.
   As a sophomore he played in all 34 games, starting 20, and averaged 5.3 points and 3.6 rebounds a game. As a junior he started all 36 games, averaging 7.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. This year as a senior he averaged 6.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. He finished his career starting 90 straight games.
   ”Coming out of Rumson I had four Division I offers and I wasn’t really interested in going to any of those schools,” Martell said. “I didn’t know that much about the process, but knew I could be better. The year at Hun really helped me. Coach (Jonathan) Stone helped me get to where I am today and I am thankful for that. I worked his summer camp last year and we have stayed in touch.
   ”He was always really frank with me about the level he thought I could play. I think he wondered if I could play at the A-10 level. In high school, Idris (Hilliard) was a much better player than I was. I think all of us realized it would be a challenge, but it worked out.”
   At Hun, Martell was part of a team that included three other Division I players in Hilliard (St. Joseph’s), Lance Goulbourne (Vanderbilt) and Doug Davis (Princeton). His one year playing at a high level with those teammates helped prepare him for the future at URI.
   ”I talked to Coach Stone about that the other day,” Martell said of his talented teammates. “He said that was the most talented team he had. Looking back, I didn’t know Doug would be such a good player or Lance would be as successful as he has been at Vanderbilt. And Idris would have as much or more success than me.
   ”Idris and I have played against each other handful of times. And it was great to see Doug and Lance in the tournament last week. It’s great seeing the Hun alumni doing so well.”
   Martell will finish up at URI as a finance major this spring. After that he is hoping to be able to continue his playing career by hooking up with a team overseas.
   ”I have a chance to make a little money playing basketball, which beats going into the office in New York City and working a 70-hour week,” said Martell, who was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Academic team this season. “I am going to take it as far as I can and try to play overseas, which is not where I thought I would be a few years ago.
   ”But I think I have established a reputation by playing against guys like Asric Murray at La Salle, Kenny Frease (Xavier) and Lavoy Allen (Temple). They are better players than me, but I am smart and have some skills and work hard. I think I am thought of as a solid player in the league.”
   After helping the Rams to 90 wins in four years, Will Martell has proven a lot of people wrong and been more than just a solid player in the A-10.