Towson sophomore guard Zane Martin declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

Towson men's basketball sophomore guard Zane Martin has declared for the NBA draft but has not hired an agent, leaving open the possibility that the Tigers’ top player could return next season.

Martin, a second-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection whose scoring average (19.8 points per game) more than tripled his output as a freshman (5.5), revealed his draft intentions in a tweet last week, but the school did not announce his decision officially until Wednesday.

“First and foremost I would like to thank my coaches , family, friends and my advisor for helping with this process,” he wrote last Wednesday. “So many people have doubted me..I’m the definition of being counted out. This all is to say I WILL BE DECLARING FOR THE 2018 NBA draft w/o agent.”

A team spokesman said Martin is believed to be the first Towson underclassman in program history to declare for the draft. Former star forward Jerelle Benimon, who went undrafted after twice being named the CAA Player of the Year, is the most recent Tiger to play in the NBA, appearing in two games for the Utah Jazz in 2015.

Towson coach Pat Skerry said in a telephone interview Wednesday that Martin has “always been very realistic” about his draft prospects. The Philadelphia native has not appeared on any prominent lists of the top underclassmen available.

Invitations to next month's NBA combine will be sent to players April 27, and early entrants have until May 30 to withdraw from the draft.

“He's obviously a kind of guy that has high aspirations,” Skerry said. “Myself and this program, we want to help him reach those goals, so this is a good way for him to get some feedback about where he stands. And obviously, anytime a guy can be a first-round pick, he's got to go. And he's also the type of guy that knows he took a big jump from his first to second year, and he's working pretty hard right now to hopefully take another big jump like that. There's no negatives to it.”

After starting just once as a freshman, Martin, 6 feet 4, emerged as Towson’s most dynamic and reliable offensive weapon in 2017-18, starting in all 31 games and posting 18 20-plus-point performances. He finished first or tied for first on the team in scoring, field-goal attempts (15.4 per game), assists (2.7 per game), turnovers (2.4 per game), and made and attempted free throws.

While senior Brian Starr often handled point guard duties last season, Skerry said Martin was among the country’s highest-usage players, indicating the degree to which Tigers plays ended with Martin shooting the ball, turning it over or getting to the foul line.

Martin thrived in transition, but Skerry said he expects the feedback from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which consists of team executives from almost three-quarters of NBA franchises, to mirror his own critiques. Martin still must improve his efficiency in ball-screen action, his ability to get off shots more quickly, his finishing with his off (right) hand and his consistency on defense.

“One thing I've liked about Zane since I recruited him is his competitive spirit and his ability to want to become the best basketball player he can become, so whatever he gains out of it, he'll take it,” Skerry said. “He competes with an edge to him, and that's something we want to see him continue to do.”

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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