Kansas Jayhawks forward Cam Martin calls redshirting ‘the best situation for me’

·5 min read

One of the top players in NCAA Division II men’s basketball a year ago, senior forward Cam Martin figures he may need a little bit more time to make a serious impact on the court at Division I power Kansas.

Thus the 6-foot-9, 225-pound former Missouri Southern State standout has decided to redshirt the 2021-22 season: practice, but not play in games in an effort to be a big factor in Division I in 2022-23.

“Being able to have a year playing against great competition and learning the system, learning how Coach (Bill Self) wants us to play, that’s the biggest advantage to me,” Martin said on Thursday, meeting with media members at Allen Fieldhouse to discuss his reasons for redshirting this season.

“It hasn’t been a struggle,” Martin, who left Missouri Southern for a Super Senior season at KU, said of fitting in with the Jayhawks. “I think learning what he (Self) wants from players at first, trying to figure him out is the biggest difference for me. It’s been coming and getting better and better every day,” Martin noted.

Martin and Self spoke about the forward possibly redshirting on Monday, the day the Jayhawks flew to New York for what turned out to be Tuesday’s 87-74 season-opening win over Michigan State.

“We talked about the pros and cons of the situation for myself. After talking with him I agreed and thought it was the best situation for me,” Martin said. “(He) didn’t force me to do anything. It was my decision.”

Martin said when he made the decision to leave Missouri Southern for his Super Senior season (the NCAA allowed all players an extra year of eligibility in response to the COVID-19 pandemic), he never envisioned being at KU two seasons — redshirting one and playing in games in another.

“That’s probably the last thing I thought about,” Martin said. “Now that I’ve been here, hearing the pros and cons, it (redshirting) is not as bad as I thought it’d be. Some good things can go with that.

“I didn’t think I’d be spending six years in college,” the 23-year-old Martin added. “But like I said, there’s pros there as well.”

He said now he’s guaranteed of completing a Master’s in sports administration during the 2022-23 school year. He’d have been two credit hours short of the degree had he spent just one season at KU.

Martin said this will take some getting used to, however.

“It was tough being in Madison Square Garden, just the competitive side of me wanting to play,” just loving the game of basketball,” Martin said of sitting out Tuesday’s win in New York. “I think it’s going to be hard to sit out a year like that just because I’m so competitive and I want to play so bad. I’m going to be there for my teammates, to help them. This team wants to win a national championship. I’m going to do my part (at practice), making the guys better, making myself better. It’s what we (he and Self) talked about, not taking this year off but use it to take my game to another level.”

Martin said he’d like to improve the consistency of his outside shot, plus, “using this time as being able to guard on the perimeter, work on switching ball screens 1 through 4. (My) lateral quickness needs to be better.”

He noted that this gives him a chance to sculpt his body.

“I’m excited to be able to work out with Ramsey (Nijem, trainer) the whole year. I’m down 20 pounds already. I’m going to keep making strides to be the best version of myself,” Martin said.

KU coach Self in announcing the plan to redshirt Martin and freshman walk-on forward Dillon Wilhite on Tuesday said: “Cam Martin has approached us. He wants to redshirt, which I think is great. That gives us an experienced guy back next year when we lose Mitch (Lightfoot) and David (McCormack). He wants to do that and I welcome that. We plan on playing Zach (Clemence, freshman forward) and KJ (Adams, frosh forward.). I don’t know how much, but plan on playing them..”

KU has signed high school senior power forwards Zuby Ejiofor and Ernest Udeh, Jr.

“We do lose a lot of guys,” Martin said. “So I’ll be excited next year whatever role I have but hopefully a big role for sure.”

Self said Thursday it’s still possible freshman guard Kyle Cuffe Jr., will redshirt along with Martin and Wilhite.

“Kyle is still talking it over with his family,” Self said. “I’m not going to force Kyle to do it. If he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to.”

On Tuesday, Self had said: ““Kyle Cuffe is a definitely a candidate. We haven’t really decided anything. He is a little bit behind Bobby (Pettiford) and Joseph (Yesufu) obviously at this point. We’ve still got to decide some things, so really Cam is the only scholarship guy we’ve made a decision on yet. That doesn’t mean anything,” Self added, “because if guys don’t play in the game tonight they can still obviously redshirt. We’ll kind of play it by ear to see if there’s another guy or two that may fall into that mix.”

Cuffe committed to Kansas in December 2020 and reclassified for 2021. He played last season for Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey. However the team had just two games because of the pandemic. He entered college ranked No. 56 in the recruiting class of 2022 by Rivals.com. He had arthroscopic knee surgery in September that kept him out a few weeks.