Basketball wasn’t always a serious thing for Brittany “Pookie” Martin. The Bishop Ford center had played the sport growing up, but didn’t compete in organized ball until she went to the Brooklyn Catholic school.
“I was so bad,” Martin said. “From freshman year to this year I improved.”
Falcons Coach Mike Toro said he began to see a change in her attitude and work ethic two summers ago when she was playing with Exodus and then-Coach Apache Paschall. Two years later Martin was a major contributor for the Falcons — so much so she will be playing Division I basketball next season after signing a National Letter of Intent with Old Dominion.
“When she started she was just a tall girl in the middle, not really serious about the game,” Toro said. “It’s great to see a kid who went from not wanting to get on the court and work out to a kid who has helped win games and wants to play every chance she gets.”
The 6-foot-3 Martin, who will try to visit ODU next week, felt an immediate connection with the coaching staff, who watched tape and then came to watch her during the season. The Queens native felt wanted and loved everything she heard about the school, especially being down south in warm Virginia, and the program. Old Dominion went 11-21 last season and 7-11 in the CAA under head Coach Karen Barefoot.
“I thought I would go high D-II, but luckily they liked me and they liked the way I played,” she said.
It was quite a journey for Martin to get to this point. She applied herself both on the court and in the classroom, working to reach the desired SAT and ACT scores. Martin, who struggled for minutes early in her career, became a more polished offensive player, a hustler and one of the city’s best interior defenders. She started this season for the Falcons and was always in the center of their pre-game ritual chanting at the top of her lungs.
“Now she is more aggressive,” Ford senior guard Shanice Vaughan said. “Now she’s calling for the ball. We are handing it to her. She is getting layups, putback layups. She is getting a lot of blocks that I’m loving.”
During the Falcons’ 21-6 campaign she was the perfect complement to their stellar backcourt. Martin, an All-Brooklyn third team selection by the New York Post, had a block of Sierra Calhoun to seal Ford’s win over Christ the King in the regular season. She had seven points, 16 rebounds and another huge block to help beat Molloy and send Ford to its first-ever CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I final. Martin pulled in 15 rebounds in an upset of rival Nazareth.
“It’s like as time went by, she started to wake up and see the potential she has and the fact that she can be a Division I player,” Toro said.
Now Martin can call herself one. She is excited to visit her new home and the next step of her basketball journey.
“I worked hard”, Martin said. “I got what I wanted.”
©2012 Community News Group
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