Remy Martin gets Kansas ready after the Rocky season
NEW ORLEANS – After the last buzzer, as he made his way across the court, Kansas transfer guard Remy Martin triumphantly stared at the Jayhawks fans, who were pushing against the Superdome railings to get as close as they could to him come.
“Rem-y! Rem-y!” they sang.
They had shouted his name when he was inducted into the national championship on Monday night. And once again after his step-back 3-point jumper broke a late tie with North Carolina to help seal a 72-69 victory.
This was the Martin they were expecting when he was transferred from Arizona State before the start of the season. Martin who coach Bill Self and his teammates anticipated and hoped to see.
He entered the season as the Big 12’s Preseason Player of the Year after dominating the Pac-12 with the Sun Devils, but was sacked by injury for part of January and most of February. For months, his status was uncertain as he went from a player who averaged 19.1 points in his junior and senior seasons with the Sun Devils to First Team All-Pac 12 honors, to a player who barely performed.
After an excellent 2020-21 season at Arizona State, Martin tested the NBA watershed before announcing his decision to transfer to Kansas, strengthening a loaded Jayhawks team as a Super Senior.
The hype surrounding his arrival was felt in his Jayhawks debut as he dropped 15 points in an exhibition against Emporia State.
Fans even sang his name then as their team’s new point guard, with his magnetic personality and explosiveness, added another layer of talent to the Kansas elite program.
In a December game against Nevada, however, Martin was hit on the basket when his right knee collided with a Nevada defender who had switched lanes as he ran forward. Martin fell to the ground, grabbed at the knee.
Martin, who was later reported to have a bone marrow, was largely ineffective in the games that followed as he moved into a reserve role. He missed almost a month at the beginning of the year.
The veteran Jayhawks were still successful without him, finishing the regular season with a 25-6 record and sharing the Big 12 regular season title with Baylor. They had Senior Guard Ochai Agbaji, Senior Forward David McCormack and Junior Guard Christian Braun to fight them forward.
But their chances of seeing everything Martin could contribute to the team late in the season did not happen until the NCAA Tournament.
“I think Remy, at his core, always knew what he was capable of helping us, but we had not really seen it yet because his health did not allow it,” Self said. “I think our guys have more of a focus now knowing what Remy can do to make us better.”
Since his healthy return, Martin has shown that he was one of the pieces that made this Kansas team unstoppable, even though the teams tried, and almost succeeded, to stop the Jayhawks championship.
Martin finished in double figures in all of Kansas’ first three games of the tournament, scoring 20 points in the round of 32 and 23 points in the round of 16 to help the Jayhawks come out narrow victories over Creighton and Providence.
Martin was not much of a factor in the national semifinal against Villanova, scoring just 3 points, but the Jayhawks hardly needed him after career nights of Agbaji and McCormack.
Against North Carolina, Martin was the driving force behind Kansas’ historic comeback in the second half, in which the Jayhawks wiped out a 16-point deficit to win their fourth national title in program history.
In his role coming off the bench, Martin created his own shots when his teammates could not, the big shots down just when the Jayhawks needed them.
“In the second half, I just got there, tried to make something happen and fired the shots with confidence,” Martin said. He added: “I wanted to go ahead and extend that lead. And I’m glad we did.
Martin’s 3-pointer late in the game was his fourth of the night, more than any other player.
And even though his path to the men’s national title game may have been more difficult than the path most of his teammates did, it just kept going the same way: with him standing at the center of the Superdome, blue-red confetti and his championship gear hung up, and lifted. national Championship Trophy.
“This year has been a tough year individually for me,” Martin said, “just injuries and just hard to find a groove sometimes. But it felt great.”