5 things to know about Florida Atlantic basketball star sophomore Alijah Martin
Few players have been as influential in Florida Atlantic basketball's historic run to the Elite 8 as sophomore guard Alijah Martin.
No. 9 seed FAU (34-3) will face the No. 3 seed Kansas State Wildcats (26-9) in the Elite 8 as the Owls look to extend the greatest season in school history.
Martin, a First Team All-CUSA selection in 2023, averaged 12 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in the Owls' NCAA Tournament victories over Memphis and Fairleigh Dickinson.
Martin's high-flying athleticism drew national attention last week when he missed a 360-windmill dunk as time expired in the Owls' win over FDU.
However, Martin's leaping ability has been central in his journey from a varsity football, basketball and track and field star in Mississippi to one of the best players in FAU men's basketball history.
FAU vs. Kansas State:The latest updates from the Elite 8 matchup
FAU vs. Kansas State predictions:Who do basketball experts think will win?
Recent:Johnell Davis' dominant night powers FAU basketball to historic Sweet Sixteen
Here are five interesting things to know about Florida Atlantic's stellar sophomore:
Alijah Martin is a former high school quarterback
Martin was an electric dual-threat quarterback for North Pike High School, which draws from the small town of Summit, Mississippi near the Louisiana border.
He threw for threw for 6,799 yards and 56 career touchdowns while rushing for 4,433 yards and 42 touchdowns over his prep career.
In the final game of high school career, Martin threw for 304 yards and 2 touchdowns while rushing for 118 yards and another score in a playoff loss vs. Poplarville.
Alijah Martin was a Mississippi track and field state champion
Martin may have shined under Friday Night Lights and earned a collegiate scholarship on the hardwood but his best varsity sport may have been track and field.
He won state championships in the triple and high jump as a senior and placed as runner-up in the long jump during his senior year at North Pike.
The state titles were the culmination of an impressive varsity career as a track and field jumper: Martin was state runner-up in the triple, long and high jump as a junior and placed Top 10 in the three events at state as as a sophomore.
Martin exploded as a second-year freshman at Florida Atlantic
FAU basketball may not have caught the national spotlight in 2022 but Conference USA foes were certainly aware of the Owls' talented youngster.
Martin started 33 games as a second-year freshman and earned Third Team All-CUSA after averaging 13.9 points and 5.3 rebounds. He shot 40 percent from 3-point range.
He earned a place in the FAU record books in the 2022 regular-season finale by scoring 34 points against Florida International, the sixth-most in a single game in program history.
Martin's all-conference selection was a rare achievement for the Owls. Only three other players had earned all-conference honors since the Owls joined Conference USA in 2013-14 (Michael Forrest, 2022; Anthony Adger, 2019; Ronald Delph, 2018).
Full feature:Owls freshman Alijah Martin enjoying breakout season
Aljiah Martin, Johnell Davis etch place among FAU greats
Martin and Davis earned First Team All-Conference USA honors in helping the Owls capture regular season and conference tournament championships.
Their selections snapped a decade-long drought of first team all-conference selections for the Owls. FAU's previous first team all-conference selection was Greg Gantt in 2013, when the Owls were a member of the Sun Belt.
Since FAU founded its basketball program in 1988, only six players have earned selection as first team all-conference: Damon Arnette (Atlantic Sun, 1999), Raheim Brown (ASUN, 2002), Mike Bell (ASUN, 2005), Rodney Webb (ASUN, 2005), Raymond Taylor (Sun Belt, 2011) and Greg Gantt (Sun Belt, 2013).
Martin and Davis are the first Owls teammates to earn first team all-conference selections in the same season.
Alijah Martin's missed dunk brings national spotlight
Alijah Martin drew national scrutiny after attempting a highlight dunk at the buzzer of FAU's 78-70 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday night.
FDU, the tournament Cinderella after becoming just the second No. 16 seed to defeat a No. 1 seed, withdrew its forces in the final seconds to concede defeat.
Florida Atlantic's Alijah Martin tries a huge dunk with the game out of hand in the final seconds and hears boos.
FAU head coach Dusty May appears to apologize to FDU head coach Tobin Anderson, who was upset.🏀 #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/Is2rIF8GJx
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) March 20, 2023
Martin missed the dunk and FAU celebrated its first qualification for the Sweet Sixteen to a chorus of boos from fans in Columbus, Ohio.
FAU head coach Dusty May apologized for the dunk attempt to FDU head coach Tobin Anderson and in the postgame press conference.
Eric J. Wallace is the deputy sports editor for The Palm Beach Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Alijah Martin: 5 things to know about FAU basketball star guard