Ryan Martin set his sights on playing in the National Basketball League of Canada shortly after graduating from Keene State College last spring.
The Maranacook High School graduate and former Mr. Maine Basketball took a step toward realizing that goal when he was drafted in the second round and 19th overall by the Island Storm on Monday night in Toronto. Located on Prince Edward Island, the Storm are one of nine teams in the league.
“It’s almost a league that I thought was out of my league,” Martin said. “I heard there were a lot of ex-NBA players in the league, then again I saw some Division II players so that gave me hope.”
Martin will be one of 18 players at a three-day mini camp in Manchester, N.H. The roster will be whittled to 15 players after that and eventually to 12 in preparation for the season opener Nov. 2.
“I’m looking forward to having five or six weeks to work out at Keene State and get ready,” Martin said. “I’m pretty confident about it.”
At 5-foot-9, Martin is one of the shorter players in the league and one of the few who played at the Division III level. The Island Storm have never drafted a Division III player, according to coach Joe Salerno, but he’s confident in the team’s pick after seeing him play in a three-day combine.
“I’ve watched a lot of film, did a lot of research,” Salerno said. “I really wanted to see him play live. He played well this weekend and proved he could play in this league.”
One hundred eighty two players participated in the combine and from that number, 50 were selected for the draft. Of those, 29 were drafted.
“Every time I heard someone’s name called it was one less chance for me,” Martin said of the draft. “I was real nervous.”
Martin stood out at the combine and was picked for the all-star team. His goal was to demonstrate his ballhandling, passing and defensive skills. He felt the word was out on his shooting which has been his strong suit since leading Maranacook to a pair of Class B state championships. Of the 182 players at the combine he was ranked third among shooters.
“We’re going to look to potentially playing Ryan off the ball,” Salerno said. “He’s kind of a specialist, a phenomenal shooter.”
Martin transferred to Keene State after spending two years at the university of Maine where he saw limited playing time. In three years at Keene State, he scored over 1,000 points while averaging 48 percent from the floor and 45 percent from behind the 3-point arc. His junior year, he led the nation in free throw shooting at 96.3 percent, making 99 out 103 attempts.
Martin, 24, has already accepted a job in Rangeley to teach physical education and health, but those plans are on hold while he pursues his basketball career. The league is in its third year and improving each season. Salerno said 18 percent of its players have NBA experience and each team can carry nine Americans or imported players.
“Basketball is the fastest growing sport in Canada,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for Ryan to start his professional career.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638