Nevada Wolf Pack senior shooting guard Caleb Martin is knocking on the door of the NBA.
A transfer from North Carolina State, Martin’s standout junior season brought plenty of national attention to him and the team as a whole. Joined by his brother Cody, both Martin twins were among the 69 participants invited to the NBA Draft combine. Caleb got his first look at the competition at the next level through various workouts and drills.
“It was a surreal experience to say the least,” he said. “It showed me the drive it takes to make it into the league.”
The Martin twins decided to return for their senior year. Much of that was thanks to head coach Eric Musselman, who couldn’t help but scream in joy when he heard the news of their return. Both Caleb and coach Musselman have helped each other heading into their second year together.
“Our relationship has grown tremendously,” he said. “When you have a coach who has that much fire, energy and passion you want to bring that same intensity on the court. It’s our job as players to do the same things he does for us and that’s a big reason we’ve grown by working hard for each other.”
Martin’s ability as a shot creator is a primary reason for garnering a spotlight. His offensive repertoire includes his signature jab step, pull-up three pointer and an advanced handle to drive into the painted area on multiple occasions. Martin also uses screens off the ball to showcase a quick crossover followed by a smooth step-back, mid-range jumpshot.
He’s also improved as a playmaker as well, finding open teammates with great court vision.
“I try to be a versatile player,” he said. “I do get some shots off in games but I also space the floor and find open teammates as well, that way we can all find our rhythm.”
Martin’s versatility was a driving force for the Wolf Pack last season. He lead the team in scoring at 18.9 points per game shooting 45.5 percent from the field and over 40 percent from three. The reigning Mountain West Player of the Year also dealt with a nagging foot injury last season, but his improved health during the offseason lead to crucial adjustments defensively this season.
“It all starts on the defensive side of the floor for me,” he said. “I have to become a better defender in order to make that next step and show I can guard positions one through three. I know I can focus on it more this year.”
Martin has already earned some praise to go along with the team’s high expectations. He’s the first player in school history to earn preseason AP and ESPN All-American honors, adding to the fact that Nevada is ranked No. 7 in the AP preseason poll.
His efficiency from the three-point line must continue as well. The departures of senior forwards Kendall Stevens and Hallice Cooke left a combined 169 threes to be replaced, and Martin’s number is called upon as the main contributor on the offensive end. Despite the increased pressure on himself and the team, he looks as calm and collected as ever.
“It’s going to be another long season,” Martin added. “But I just need to keep improving as a player and a leader on the court.”
Martin’s dreams of making the NBA may come to fruition this upcoming summer, but he’s focused on the challenge this season faces. The Wolf Pack’s schedule features some new faces from the Pac-12, including Arizona State and USC to go along with familiar foes in the Mountain West Conference.
“We just need to take it one game at a time,” he said. “Obviously, it all starts within our own conference and string together some solid wins in order to make the tournament. That’s a whole different level from there, but we have the pieces to make another run at it and improve upon last season’s performance.”
No matter the outcome of this season, Martin has helped transform Nevada men’s basketball for years to come.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.