Columns/Opinion, Justin Jackson, Sports, Women's Basketball, WVU Sports

WVU’s Martin not caught up in the draft speculation

MORGANTOWN — The next big WVU hoops prospect for the pros is not that much of a shot blocker and has never been to the NBA Combine.
Sagaba Konate has already done both, and for those who love ridiculously early mock drafts, is projected as the 25th overall pick of the 2019 draft by, which compares the WVU forward to ex-Detroit Pistons star Ben Wallace.
Unless Konate starts growing a monster afro, we assume it’s an on-court abilities comparison only.
But, more to the point, you will not find Tynice Martin’s name on any mock draft for 2019.
Her name will not appear anywhere that lists top pro prospects out of women’s basketball for next season.
UConn’s Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson are all over the place, and rightfully so.
Baylor’s 6-foot-7 forward Kalani Brown will likely be the crown jewel for most of the Big 12 and national awards for next season.
Not one mention of Martin, who guided the Mountaineers to an unlikely Big 12 tourney title, in 2017, but then missed all of last season with a fractured foot.
It’s either a case of people forgetting Martin’s talents or simply waiting to see how she performs this season.
In either case, Martin, who is practicing and working out again with the Mountaineers but has not yet been cleared to play, doesn’t care.
“I have never worried about whether or not some number is next to my name or not,” the WVU junior guard said. “I didn’t care about that stuff in recruiting (out of high school) and I don’t care about it now.
“Who knows what’s going to happen? We could come out and win a championship this season. Who knows? You can’t predict that stuff. I’ve never cared about a mock draft.”
Some have not forgotten, and if you want to begin a conversation of who is next in line to be the next big pro star from WVU, with all apologies to quarterback Will Grier, that list has to begin with Martin.
And there is a real possibility Martin could make herself available to a pro career after this season.
She is a redshirt junior athletically, but a senior academically and is on pace to earn her bachelor’s degree after the 2018-’19 season.
There is a growing trend of women’s players leaving school early — nothing like the mass exodus the men’s game faces each season, but still a trend.
Tennessee’s Diamond DeShields was the No. 3 pick by Chicago in the 2018 draft, and she still had a season of eligibility remaining. Jewell Loyd was a No. 1 pick, in 2015, who had a season of eligibility remaining at Notre Dame.
There have been others. The difference is, the WNBA requires players to be 22 years old in the calendar year of the draft. Martin will be 22 next March, a month before the 2019 draft.
“We really just have to see what happens,” Martin said. “Let’s play out this year and go from there.”
Just one concern: How will she look this season coming off the foot injury?
It’s not a concern to her.
“I don’t see it as me picking up where I left off,” Martin said. “I’m going to be better than when I left off. I’m a senior (academically) and I was just a sophomore the last time I played. I should be better.
“You always have something to prove and I have a lot to prove to myself, but I am going to be even better than I was before.”