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Jayhawks Land ASU Transfer Remy Martin

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 10 Pac-12 Tournament - Arizona State v Washington State Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kansas basketball’s offseason continues to be an eventful one, with the latest activity being the Monday night announcement that Arizona State senior grad transfer Remy Martin will play for the Jayhawks in 2021-22. Martin, though technically leaving his name in for the NBA draft, clearly intends to make use of the extra fifth year being given to seniors following last year’s messy season, as he told College Hoops Today: “I just want to be able to play for a historic program. I’m very excited to play for Coach Self and get my master’s degree. I’m hoping to interact with the fans and play in such a historic place like Phog Allen Fieldhouse.”

Not exactly the words of a guy who intends to skip his last year of eligibility.

Martin will be an immediate starter and impact player for Bill Self. After being named 2nd Team All-Pac 12 as a sophomore, Martin would earn 1st Team all-conference honors in both the last two years. Expectations were sky-high headed into 2020-21. with Martin being named an AP Preseason 1st Team All-American. Martin wouldn’t end up even a 3rd team selection at year’s end, but not necessarily because his senior campaign was disappointing for him, specifically. While Martin’s numbers were very good, his production overall didn’t really improve over his junior campaign, and Arizona State’s dismal 11-14 performance last season, coming off back to back Tournament appearances, certainly didn’t help his case.

Martin averaged 19.1 points per game as both a junior and senior, while hovering around 4 assists per game each season as well, and averaging over a steal per game in all four collegiate seasons so far. In terms of tempo-free numbers, Martin had the Pac-12’s highest usage rate this year after being 2nd as a junior. He shot 49.5% from two and 34.6% from three, while drawing enough fouls for a very respectable 43.9% free throw rate, and making 77.6% from the stripe. Martin is also a quality playmaker who takes excellent care of the ball considering the load he’s shouldered for the Sun Devils. Last year he posted a 23.6% assist rate (4th in the Pac-12 with 26.4% in conference play) while turning it over on just 13.9% of his possessions.

Martin measures 6’, 175 pounds, and his lack of size prevents him from being a high level defender, though he still has a reputation for hounding opposing point guards on-ball. On the other end of the court, his size hasn’t been a big hindrance to his game. Martin has the quickness and handle to get into the paint at will, and shot a very reasonable 58.2% at the rim last year (meaning a drive and shot at the rim was worth 1.16 points per possession, plus added value from free throws).

The biggest hole in his game, both statistically and by my personal eye test, is a tendency to play hero ball and try to generate jump shots that aren’t always there. 31.5% of his shots last year were two point jumpers, which he hit at only a 39.8% clip. Living in ASU country I’ve watched a fair amount of Sun Devils basketball during his time in Tempe (and also sadly watching both their recent games against Kansas). My read on Martin is that he can be impatient with the ball in his hands, and playing in Bobby Hurley’s up-tempo offense, he will try to generate his own shot when it simply isn’t there, rather than looking to create for others off his penetration. The silver lining here, though, is that Hurley may arguably be the worst Xs and Os coach in high major basketball, and Self is unlikely to give Martin a similar green light to chuck two point jumpers early in the shot clock. Martin way well look much more polished in a Self offense than in the whirlwind of chaos in which Hurley’s Sun Devils frequently find themselves playing.

It’s been clear from the list of Self’s recent targets and aggressive pursuit of incoming freshman 5 star point guard TyTy Washington (who chose Kentucky last week) that he still felt he needed a point/combo guard who could step in and run the show from day one. He has that guy in Remy Martin. Martin gives the team that lightning quick, slashing presence that is typically a hallmark of Self’s Kansas teams, one that was noticeably missing last year. However, he won’t solve any questions about this year’s outside shooting, as he’s just a 33.6% career three point shooter on 524 attempts. He did fall just shy of 35% this year, so it’s still a noticeable improvement over the shooting the team got from players like Marcus Garrett and Bryce Thompson (and even Christian Braun) last year.

While there are some holes in the efficiency of his offensive game, and he does nothing to solve KU’s lack of height at the point guard position, Self and the Jayhawks are getting a proven talent only one year removed from preseason 1st team All-American honors, and a guy who was posting nearly 20 points a night on a team with several other highly rated players. Martin will make a difference from day one and give Self that Tyshawn/Mason/Collins/Dotson style combo slasher that was sorely lacking last year. If Ochai Agbaji elects to stay in Lawrence, this team will have a deadly combination of skill and upperclassman leadership in the fall. And if Agbaji does move on, the glut of transfers and recruits Self picked up will mean there should be talented players able to step in and fill that role on the wing, now that the point guard is fully solidified.