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Remy Martin brings leadership, stability in return to Sun Devils

Arizona State guard Remy Martin celebrates a score against Arizona during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State defeated Arizona 66-65. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Leaders on and off the college basketball court are needed more now than ever.

With teams and players having to change up nearly every aspect of how they do business as they abide by coronavirus protocols, strong leadership is necessary for any success navigating the new normal.

That’s why Arizona State guard Remy Martin’s decision to return to the program for his senior season holds much more weight than just marking a roster spot filled.

“He’s a lead-by-example player. He lives in the gym, he works on his game, sets a good example on and off the court for our guys,” head coach Bobby Hurley said during a Zoom call on Wednesday.

“He helps with our culture and he’s about winning. … I can talk about all the personal accolades that I think are in reach for him, [but] in his mind all he’s thinking about is, ‘Can we compete to try to win a Pac-12 Championship? Can we go to a Final Four this year? Do we have what it takes to do that?'”

A potential Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate in 2020, there’s no doubt Martin has been a crucial piece to the Sun Devils’ success during his tenure in the Valley.

Martin posted his best season as a Sun Devil in 2019. He was the second-highest leading scorer in the Pac-12, averaging 19.1 points with 4.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds. For his efforts, he was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team, and ASU looked to be headed to its third straight NCAA Tournament before the season was canceled due to the pandemic.

“He’s been there, he’s been an elite player in the conference,” Hurley said. “He’s a guy that plays his best basketball in the biggest games. If you look at our schedule and all that, you go right down the line which in any big game we’ve been involved with as a program in the last couple years he’s stepped up in those situations.”

Over the last three years at ASU, Martin has averaged 13.8 points, 4.0 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 30.0 minutes per game. He’s been a part of three 20-win seasons.

But while ASU fans breathe a collective sigh of relief, Hurley has some sympathy for the guard.

He obviously wants his leader back on the team for another season, but also wants to see Martin succeed at the next level. And with the current state of affairs in the country, Martin’s NBA aspirations consequently got put on hold.

“I want what’s best for Remy,” Hurley said. “He’s been terrific to me and the program. A part of me was upset for him that he didn’t get the stage that he needed in the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament that I think would have put him in a better position to be recognized as a draft pick.

“In addition to that, the draft process was different than any other. He  didn’t have a chance to do individual workouts against other guys who are projected to be draft which likely would have happened in a normal year. He didn’t get that typical NBA feedback in his decision making process.”

Of the 105 players reportedly among options to be invited to the 2020 NBA Combine, Martin was not one of them. The guard felt it was better to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and work use his senior year to make a run at the 2021 draft class.

Some might show resentment toward the whole situation, but not Martin, who is focusing in on what he can control.

“I could just sense the relief he has and peace of mind he has with the decision,” Hurley said. “At the same time, how enthusiastic he is about the possibilities for our team this year and the things that he would like to accomplish.”

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