Martin soars to new heights with Muskegon Big Reds basketball team

Muskegon High School explosive sophomore guard James Martin is a powerhouse player for the Big Reds.

By Melvin Lane

Transitioning from middle school basketball to high school basketball can be a daunting task for anyone especially when playing at a state powerhouse like Muskegon High School. Now a 6-3 sophomore guard, James Martin kind of had an idea of what to expect as far as the pace of the game, environment and having Keith Guy as a coach.

“Nothing is going to come to you easy," Martin said. "You have to work for your spot. I’ve had relatives that played under Coach Guy, and they told me it would be hard.  I just took notes from them on what it took and started following them after that."

Martin, in a reserve role last year for the Division 1 state runner-up Big Reds, played a key role as he thrived in transition, guarded multiple positions and provided good energy. Heading into this season, Martin has already received multiple Division 1 offers. On a balanced Muskegon team that has six players averaging 8-10 points per game, Martin averages 8 ppg to go along with 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Already through the midway point of the season, the explosive sophomore has had his share of highlight-reel dunks. None more impressive than the one-handed throwdown on a defender during the Muskegon Hall of Fame Classic game against Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills. That dunk, in particular, vent viral on social media platforms garnering attention from the likes of BallIsLife. During that game, Martin had several third-quarter dunks that energized the Big Reds as they cruised to a 74-36 victory.

Martin recalled his first successful dunk attempt being in the seventh grade. His mindset going for dunks have been simple. "Tear the rim down,” said Martin. “When I see the ball come off the rim, I just have to go get it."

Those words couldn’t be truer as Martin jammed home a missed shot attempt late in the second quarter of a recent Big Reds' victory against Reeths-Puffer. The dunk was the exclamation point of a dominant half of basketball by the Big Reds, who avenged an early season loss to the Rockets.

“It’s a privilege to coach James," Guy said. "He’s one of those special kids you could see it early on. He’s a big gamer, coachable, fearless, defends, a good teammate and a gym rat. Anything a coach you could dream of, he’s that with the work ethic. He knows how to bring life to a team."

Now in a starting role, Martin has the ball in his hands more often during critical moments That shows the trust that the team and coaching staff have in him. Having coached stellar players during his tenure at Muskegon Heights, and now currently at Muskegon, Coach Guy views Martin as different.

“James is more skilled than people give him credit for," Guy said. "His jump shot has improved.  He has the toughness of DeShaun Thrower, and he was athletic, but he has athleticism like his uncle Pat Martin or a Ricky Anderson. He’s a across between a lot of guys I coached, but the biggest thing for me is he has that DNA of toughness."

There are a lot of players that returned for Muskegon, which is currently 13-2.

One thing is clear for Martin and the Big Reds is that they are laser focused on making a return trip to the Breslin to win it all.

“We just been thinking of how to get back," Martin said. "We want to go back this year."

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