Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top Pre-Season Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2016-17 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season. Today, we feature #12 Hassan Martin of Rhode Island
What He’s Done
Hassan Martin definitely had an off-year in 2015-16 as he was plagued with a season-ending knee injury and his team barely managed to break the .500 mark. But none of that mattered; Martin found a way to win A-10 Defensive Player of the Year and make a profound impact despite not playing in 6 games overall. Martin also dealt with an ankle injury earlier in the year that sidelined him for a couple of contests.
Martin was Rhode Island’s third leading scorer (12.0 PPG) and second leading rebounder (5.6 RPG) despite playing at less than 100% for a majority of the season. Though his offensive accolades are nonetheless impressive, it was on defense where he thrived night-in and night-out. The 6-7, 230 lb. forward is a beast in the paint, and his shot-blocking ability is unmatched by just about any other player in the nation. Martin’s 9.8% block percentage ranked 25th in the country and 1st overall in the Atlantic 10. His 2.5 blocks per game put him 18th in the nation, and we can only expect that number to go up when he’s fully healthy this season.
Hands down, Martin’s best performance last season came in a non-conference game against Iona. The junior went for 27 points, scooped up 9 boards, and managed to block 4 shots as well. His new career-high in scoring is a mark that can certainly be beat this year. If this performance is any indication of what Hassan Martin is capable of in his senior year with the Rams, then Dan Hurley’s squad is going to roll right into the NCAA Tournament.
What He’ll Do
Hassan Martin did take a step back in a number of statistical categories last season; his shooting percentage, rebounds per game, and blocks per game all went down as compared to his sophomore year. But if Hassan Martin can perform worse as a junior due to an unfortunate season and still come out with the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year award, I can only imagine how good of a player he’s going to be this year.
Rhode Island is going to be known for its backcourt this season with a healthy E.C. Matthews and returning studs in Jarvis Garrett and Jared Terrell, but Martin is going to be the #1 guy in the post. He and fellow senior Kuran Iverson should get a lot of touches down low, and with their abilities to get offensive boards, they’ll score a lot of second chance points as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Martin take an enormous leap this season; with full health, a load of talent, and a solid core of guards at the top of the key, there’s no reason why Martin can’t become a first-team A-10 caliber player this season.
Previously: #13 Justin Tillman