Nevada Notes: Texas coach impressed by Wolf Pack’s Martin twins
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cody and Caleb Martin have a lot of fans. Count Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart among them.
When Smart was head coach at Virginia Commonwealth, he went over and watched the twins play, and he talked on the phone with their mother, Jenny Bennett.
“I went there to see them and I remember having some great conversations on the phone with their mom,” Smart said during Media Day at Bridgestone Arena. “She is a single mom who is just a great, great lady. And the boys, they weren’t much on the phone. You know, they didn’t have much to say. But they were polite.
“I went to see them, and I was like wow, these guys would be phenomenal. About a week later, they committed to N.C. State, so I obviously didn’t make much of an impression.”
Smart said he called them a couple of years ago when the twins decided to leave N.C. State.
“I think they expressed, you know, an interest in coming to visit,” Smart said. “But at the time, we only had one scholarship, and there were a package deal, going together. Those are the times where you have to find a scholarship. I’m not saying we would have got them, but those guys are terrific.”
Smart admitted the Martins pose some serious challenges for his Longhorns.
“Those guys are really, really good,” he said. “I don’t think I could count — I mean, I think there’s — I could count on one hand the number of guys that we’ve played all year long, and you know the schedule we’ve played, that are more dangerous than those guys.
“The challenges that they present, they’re extremely versatile. They actually, they both play — they play every position for them because of the way they play. But both of them, their natural position is kind of small forward, big wing. That’s one spot we don’t have.
“Caleb is a phenomenal scorer. He’s always been wired to score. He’s extremely confident. He really gets going. His first step is very, very fast. Cody is as versatile as there is in college basketball. He literally can do anything you ask a guy to do on the court, rebound, defend, play point guard, initiate offense, shoot, drive, post up. Whatever you need.”
Smart said the sky would’ve been the limit if the Martins had picked VCU.
“Those guys would have been all-time greats. I mean their jerseys would have been up in the rafters if they’d have come to VCU. They’d probably be up in the rafters at Nevada.”
The Martins both said Smart was “a good dude.”
“It was nothing personal,” Cody Martin said. “He’s great at what he does. We just felt like this was the best option for me and my brother.”
“We seemed to be a better fit (at NC State) coming out of high school,” Caleb Martin said.
Smart was a little subdued when he got on the podium, and with good reason. Veteran Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido passed away earlier in the day.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of Augie Garrido, particularly Jeannie (his wife),” Smart said. “Augie was a mentor of mine during my first couple years at Texas and this is terribly sad news. Thinking about all of his loved ones.
“I knew Augie really well. He kind of took me under his wing when I first got to Texas. He came over to practice — a lot of people don’t know this. Augie is a basketball guy. Augie played basketball. That was kind of his first love. Obviously, baseball turned out pretty well for him.”
STEALING THE SHOW
Georgia State coach Ron Hunter might have been the most entertaining speaker on Thursday.
He talked about the unfairness of the NCAA when it comes to mid-majors and his relationship with Mick Cronin, the veteran Cincinnati coach. Cincy and Georgia State square off in the first game of the day.
“Everybody knows I got a great deal of respect for Cincinnati and what they’ve been doing,” Hunter said. “Mick and I have been friends for a long time. I haven’t spoken to Mick for a while because Mick wanted to recruit my son (R.J.).
“My son wanted to go to Cincinnati. So I had to hate Mick in my household until R.J. actually committed to me. He actually liked Mick for some reason. He came home one day and said he was going to play at Cincinnati, and that changed my entire life.”
The younger Hunter was drafted in the first round, 28th overall, a couple of years ago. He scored more than 1,800 points in three years playing for his dad.
MUSS LOST ONE
Nevada coach Eric Musselman said he tried to recruit current Texas forward Jericho Sims out of high school but was unsuccessful.
“His father, Charles, played for my dad at Minnesota, and Charles’ brother, Lee, played for my dad at Ashland,” Musselman said. “He has great length. He can block shots and finish at the rim. He has great mobility laterally. His wing span is incredible. When you put him and (Mo) Bamba together, it presents problems.”