Butler heads into March Madness with Kelan Martin playing new lead role

INDIANAPOLIS — Butler forward Kelan Martin always has been a scorer.

This season, he learned to thrive in a new role — team leader.

It was an awkward position for the 6-foot-7 senior, who had never before been handed the reins to a team and wasn’t always keen on speaking his mind. But with only two seniors on a young roster and a new coach in town, Martin stepped forward and made the transformation look smooth and natural.

“I think he’s got a maturity about him from his experiences that has helped him and has helped him help others. I’ve watched him go put his arm around (freshman) Aaron Thompson,” coach LaVall Jordan said. “After we lost to Georgetown, Kelan went around the locker room and talked to every guy individually. That’s how he’s grown.”

March Madness 2018: Printable bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament

Martin always seemed more focused on leading by example. And based on the numbers, he was hard to ignore.

Martin heads into Friday’s NCAA Tournament opener against seventh-seeded Arkansas (23-11) needing just nine points to become the third member of the Bulldogs’ 2,000-point club. He can pass Darrin Fitzgerald for second on the school’s career scoring list with 29 points and needs 18 rebounds to leapfrog the late Joel Cornette for No. 10 on Butler’s career list.

Jordan and Martin both knew the Bulldogs (20-13) needed more than just big numbers to be successful this season. Martin did not disappoint — on or off the court.

He finished with career highs in scoring (20.8 points), rebounds (6.2) and assists (2.0). He was a unanimous selection to the Big East first team after scoring a league-high 23.6 points in conference play.

But Martin’s biggest contributions were not always seen by the fans.

“I told everyone we didn’t play well, we didn’t play our best …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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