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Ryan Martin gets drafted to the Canadian Basketball League's Storm

Ryan Martin
Ryan Martin

Traditionally, the athletic journey of a graduating Division III athlete ends that last game of their senior year. However, recently graduated Keene State College point guard Ryan Martin has bucked that trend after being drafted 19th overall by the Island Storm of the Canadian Basketball League.

Getting drafted as a Division III athlete was just like every other mold he’s broken during his basketball career. Many times players told him he was too short to play basketball. The 5’9 Martin excelled as a point guard, scoring 1,000 points in just three years for KSC. When opponents told him he’d never play Division I basketball, he was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Maine and was accepted onto the University of Maine Men’s Basketball Team out of high school. And now, Martin looks to defy the odds just as he has his entire life. Though never short on confidence as a player, waiting to hear if you’ve been drafted or not is much different. Martin said it was impossible not to get at least a little nervous.

“It was incredibly nerve racking,” Martin said about waiting to see if his name would be called. “I didn’t know with all the bigger schools around. I saw the board before the draft got started and just a lot of big names and a lot of big schools. Every pick that went by I got more and more nervous. It was a huge relief when I heard my name.”

Ironically enough, the Island Storm isn’t even the first basketball offer he’d gotten from that area.

“The coach for the University of Prince Edward Island offered me a scholarship to play there right before I went to Keene State,” Martin said. “He talked to me about the island all the time. He’s someone else who talked to me about this league and told me how good of a league it was.”

Good, but very young.

The National Basketball League of Canada (NBL Canada) is actually very new to the scene, being home to only 9 teams. So new in fact, that this will mark only their third year in existence. The country of Canada was actually the last FIBA (the French acronym for International Basketball Federation) North American country to feature a professional league.

Immediately after his season at Keene State, Martin started reaching out to teams, making highlight videos, and most importantly, continuing to work on his game.

One way he was able to work on his game was through one of the teams in the NBL, the Brampton A’s. They brought Ryan in for a week long run to get a feel for him, and Martin said that experience was priceless.

“The A’s were a team that really helped me out. For eight days we would do the on court stuff, and then we’d do lifting, then at night we’d come back and play basketball,” Martin said. “Just playing against all those Division I players and guys in the [NBA] Developmental-League and pro guys that were there, it really made me feel comfortable and confident.”

The A’s still weren’t sure on him, so they made a decision that would not only help them, but would help Ryan in the long run as well: they told him to enter the draft.

“They wanted me to go to the draft combine so they could take another look at me, but also so that other teams could see me as well. Playing with tons of guys who might sign with other teams, it was pretty much the best competition I could get.”

That decision paid off. Once at the combine, players were measured on physical features like height and speed, and then more in-depth statistics like dribbling speed and arch of a player’s shot. The process is run through 9450 Technology, who specializes in scientifically measuring players’ abilities by placing sensors inside the basketball. When all was said and done, the always fundamentally sound Martin ranked third in the entire draft in shooting, and top 25 in all his other measurable statistics.

With reason to be excited about his rankings, the always humble Martin was quick to note where those skills were honed.

Martin said Sarah Testo and the Strength and Conditioning program at Keene State were extremely helpful in preparing him for the physical toll the combine put on him. His biggest help though, came from Keene State College’s Head Basketball Coach Rob Colbert. “Coach Colbert’s workouts really helped a lot,” Ryan said. “He didn’t hold a typical Division III practice; we got after it every day. Everything was prepared, every decision he made was calculated. He was a great coach and I was very fortunate to have gone to Keene State and to now have this opportunity.”

Colbert said he could not be more proud of Ryan.

“I think it reflects on Ryan and the type of person he is more than anything,” Colbert said. “If you know Ryan, you know how much of a passion and dedication he put forth to make this dream come true. This has everything to say about him and the type of kid he is. We [Keene State] are just happy to be mentioned alongside him.”

Colbert wasn’t the only one to respond positively to Martin getting drafted, KSC Athletic Director John Ratliff shared the “proud, but not surprised” reaction.

“He was one of our hardest working student athletes; it’s a result of his hard work,” Ratliff said. “Keene State is excited. Anytime someone can move to the next level is good indication of where our program is.”

Contract information, roommates, and even the preseason are still a ways away, with players checking in around October 10th. In the meantime, Martin will make his way back to Spaulding Gym to continue to work out with the team up until the day the game he’s always played for fun finally becomes a career. As calculated and well-prepared as he’s been his entire career, this next leap is no different.

“I did a lot of research. Probably every night I was watching stuff about the league and its players, and that motivated me and told me how badly I wanted to play in the league,” Martin said. “It’s pretty close to home and the talent of the players is just unbelievable.”

Martin uses the term “close to home” loosely since, according to Google Maps, Prince Edward Island is a lengthy 7 ½ hour drive from his hometown of Wayne Maine, and 10 ½ hours from Keene. When he heard the actual distance, Martin laughed, noting it’s a heck of a lot shorter trip than Europe, where he had also been looking. But after such an achievement, it will take more than a couple of hours in a car to keep his fans from coming to see him play.

“I’d make the trip even if it were 24 hours away,” Coach Colbert said. “We are so proud of him. I was telling my wife as we were watching live online; in all the time I’ve known Ryan, I’ve never seen him smile so much and be so happy as when he shook the commissioners hand and put on that hat.”

While Martin is well-known for his work ethic around the campus of KSC, you couldn’t blame him for exhaling a little, if only just for a second.

But that second is about as much as you’ll get, because for Martin, breaking molds doesn’t happen by resting on your laurels.

“It’s just a dream come true,” Martin said happily.

And then he was right back to talking about how excited he was to get back to work again.

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