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Big East Player Profile: Butler’s Kelan Martin

Kelan Martin’s development will be crucial as Butler looks to continue to take steps towards a conference title despite losing some key talent last season. Here is what the sophomore brings to the Bulldogs.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Martin had a number of offers coming out of high school from colleges that could have provided him with a starring role. But the forward decided to play in the Big East and chose the Bulldogs over conference rivals Xavier.

During his freshman season, Martin was a solid bench player who averaged 7.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in his 14.6 minutes a game.

One of the 6-foot-6 forward’s more memorable performances came against then fifth-ranked North Carolina when he scored 17 points in 17 minutes as the Bulldogs knocked off the Tar Heels in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.

Martin also contributed multiple double-digit scoring outputs off the bench against the likes of Georgetown, Indiana State, Tennessee, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova and Providence. Butler went 4-2 in those games.

Butler seemed to be successful when the team received a solid outing from Martin last season. In games where the Bulldogs won, the forward shot 46 percent from the field and in losses he shot just 31 percent.

Scoring is a solid part of Martin’s game. As a freshman, he averaged 41.2 percent shooting from the floor for the year and averaged 19.6 points per 40 minutes. Clearly, the Bulldogs have a player who could be an offensive star if he reaches his potential.

Defensively, Martin is a bulldog and Butler fans know what I am talking about. When a recruit comes to play at Hinkle Fieldhouse it is as if defensive toughness is automatically pumped into that player’s basketball DNA. The forward can improve on his on-ball defending a little bit, but overall Martin is solid on the defensive end just like everyone who plays big minutes for head coach Chris Holtmann.

To improve this season, there are a few parts of Martin’s game that need to be addressed.

The first is rebounding because 2.1 rebounds per game in the amount of time that Martin played per night is decent, but can develop. The forward averaged 5.7 rebounds per 40 minutes and with increased playing time those averages should increase.

Three-point shooting was a struggle for Martin during his freshman campaign as he shot at a 24.7 percent clip. In order for Martin to advance his game offensively, he must add a consistent three-point shooting stroke to his game. He can consistently drive to the basket and make plays inside. To open more of those opportunities up for himself and teammates, Martin has to knock down more shots from deep.

The biggest reason that Martin’s emergence is important to Butler comes back to the fact that the Bulldogs did lose some important pieces including Alex Barlow and Kameron Woods. Roosevelt Jones is going to need some help carrying the scoring and rebounding load all season. Butler has a few other pieces who can help, but Martin’s success is huge for Holtmann and the dawgs for the next few years.

On the site we have started mentioning players who might experience sophomore slumps next season. Martin is one of those players who must have a sophomore surge in order for the Bulldogs to win their first Big East title.