When you arrive to campus among three high school All-Americans and graduate with five NBA draft picks in your starting lineup, even the best of players can be a little overlooked. Bill Martin didn't always get the spotlight, but he stands out as one of the modern era's classic forwards, a defensive minded rebounder who could put some big games together when it counted.
A Top 25 prospect from McKinley Tech, Martin joined the Hoyas in the fall of 1981, playing all 35 games as a reserve. Although he scored 21 points early in the season against St. Leo, Martin spent most of his freshman year as a backup to Mike Hancock, scoring 4.9 points and 2.4 rebounds a game. With Hancock's graduation in 1982, Martin joined the starting lineup and played all 32 games for a lineup that started, at various times, two freshman and three sophomores. Martin turned in two of his best games that season in a 30 point, 7 rebound effort versus Alabama State and a 24 point, 7 rebound effort against Alabama. A consistent 10 point per game performer in Big East play, Martin was an able rebounder, finishing second to Patrick Ewing with 6.3 rebounds a game, and missed only six of 43 free throws in Big East play.
Expected to be a key contributor in 1983-84, Martin started the first six games but was moved to the bench in early December, and did not start another game that season. Some saw this as a sign of trouble in Martin's game, but the move allowed John Thompson to get freshmen Reggie Williams and Michael Graham into the action while counting upon Martin as a key reserve. And key he was--Martin averaged 27 minutes per game in Big East play, was third in scoring, and and second in rebounding. He posted four double-doubles in 16 conference games, including a combined 32 points and 20 rebounds in two games against Boston College, along with 22 points and 17 boards in two against Connecticut.
Martin's signature game came in a nationally televised non-conference matchup with Brigham Young. The Cougars were led by senior forward Devin Durrant, whose 27.9 per game scoring average led the nation much of the season. Martin's performance against Durrant was exceptional on both sides of the ball--defensively, he held Durrant to 5 for 16 shooting with only two rebounds, while Martin was a perfect 8 for 8 from the field, totalling 23 points and 15 rebounds.
Georgetown's consummate 6th man of its championship season was back in the starting lineup in 1984-85, and he finished with more minutes that season than anyone on the team. Leading the team in scoring in eight games, he shot 54% from the field, was second in rebounding for a third straight season, and averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds in the 1985 Big East tournament en route to the all-tournament team. Of the 16 players named to one of the three all-conference teams in 1985, 13 made the NBA, and six of the top 27 players in the draft were on the All-Big East teams that year. Martin was named to second team, joining Walter Berry, Bill Wennington, Michael Adams, and Earl Kelley on the second team.
And about that first team? Only four NBA first round picks and a second rounder the following year.
In the summer of 1985, the Indiana Pacers drafted Bill Martin early in the second round, beginning a three year NBA career with three different clubs. After a tour in Europe, Martin returned to begin a business career in the early 1990's, and lives in Bloomington, IL.
Bill Martin graduated Georgetown in 1985 as the school's sixth all time leading scorer, its fourth all time leading rebounder, and its tenth ranked leader in steals. In any other era, that would have been a huge accomplishment, but playing alongside Patrick Ewing tends to understate any such records. Martin's cumulative efforts, though, hold up well for players of his era and position.
Two decades removed from some of the greatest games in Georgetown basketball, Martin admits he remembers the good times fondly.
"It means a lot more to me now than it did to me then,” he told The HOYA in 2003. "I'm so much more proud [of it] now.”