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July 20, 2010
Scott Martin is still at Notre Dame. At least that's what everyone is told.
It's been more than two years since Martin, the 6-foot-8 swingman who transferred from Purdue, has played in live competition. After sitting out the 2008-09 season at Notre Dame, he was forced to miss another year with a torn left ACL last October.
He'll be traveling to Switzerland and France with other college players to participate in some European summer competition next month, and then he'll return for what should be two productive years with Mike Brey's program.
But Irish fans still know very little about Martin.
"(Martin) is maybe one of the most gifted offensive guys we've ever had here in my tenure," said Brey last June, four months before Martin suffered the season-ending knee injury.
"He steps out and shoots it, he puts it on the floor and he could be our second big guy. Scott is a really skilled perimeter guy. He steps out. Having a lefty that comes out at you is a little different.
"When I watched him in the Peach Jam, I walked away from a game and I said, 'Chris Mullin-like.' He's a good fit for us. He scores it, knows how to play, and comes from a successful high school program."
The Irish will need Martin's offensive input with the departure of Luke Harangody up front and Tory Jackson in the backcourt. Tim Abromaitis did a nice job of picking up the scoring slack in Martin's absence last season, and now the two will join forces - along with Ben Hansbrough - to create quite a formidable outside scoring punch.
"I feel like I'm a better shooter now," said Martin, comparing his game today to where he was when he transferred to Notre Dame. "I've really taken time to work on that. I'm bigger and stronger than I was, especially in the upper body."
Martin literally blushes when he hears Brey's flattering comments about his offensive skill set.
"I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm the best (offensive player in the last decade at Notre Dame), but I do feel like I can go inside and I can go outside," Martin said. "I think one of the specialties of my game is my versatility.
"Growing up, I always wanted to be a versatile player. I've worked on ball handling and post moves, whatever I've had to do. I think that would describe me pretty well - an inside-out guy."
Martin also knows he'll have to hit the boards to compensate for the loss of Harangody, who led by word and deed.
"I think we'll be all right there," said Martin of Notre Dame's rebounding. "We'll have some big bodies. Those rebounds have to go to somebody, so we have to make sure they go to us. Obviously, you can't replace Luke. We have to form our own identity as a team."
There was talk late in the 2009-10 season that Martin might try to come back early from the torn ACL and participate down the stretch. Looking back, Martin knows it was a long shot now.
"It was not realistic," said Martin of his potential early return. "It could have been done, maybe. But I wouldn't have helped the team. I could have played. At the time, I was all for it. But in reality, (the knee) wasn't ready and I wasn't ready. It would have been a bad thing."
Despite not being able to play, Martin took great pleasure in Notre Dame's stretch run in 2009-10.
"They got going and really turned things around," Martin said. "They played so well at the end of the season. I was just a big fan. I was probably more excited than anybody out there, jumping up and down. But it was hard, it was definitely hard not playing."
Martin is more than ready to get back in action.
"That first year really helped me, but the second year was a little rough because I missed a couple of months when I really couldn't do anything, especially right after surgery," Martin said. "I really struggled for a couple of weeks. I didn't feel very well. The anesthesia didn't sit well with me.
"So I lost a little bit then and had to work to get it back. But now I'm feeling pretty good now. I'm ready to go. I can't wait."