Everett Community College’s Bobby Martin gets set to take a free throw during a Jan. 2 game against Pierce at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett Community College’s Bobby Martin gets set to take a free throw during a Jan. 2 game against Pierce at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

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Ex-Glacier Peak hoops star’s change of heart has lifted EvCC

Bobby Martin was set to quit basketball, but a missed free throw in his last prep game changed his mind.

Bobby Martin never intended to play basketball beyond high school. When his senior season at Glacier Peak concluded in February of 2018, he figured his time on the court was done and he was onto his new journey towards becoming a nutritionist.

But one bounce was all it took to change Martin’s mind, and as a result the powerhouse Everett Community College men’s basketball team has its first local star of the Mike Trautman era.

The Northwest Athletic Conference opens North Region play Wednesday, and Martin is leading the way as the Trojans seek their third consecutive region title.

Martin, a 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman forward, is doing it all for an Everett team that’s 13-2 and ranked No. 4 in the NWAC coaches poll heading into region play. Martin leads the team in scoring at 18.0 points per game, shooting 57.4% from the field and 41.0% from 3-point range, making a team-high 2.7 shots from deep per contest. He’s also chipping in with 6.5 rebounds (third on the team), 2.7 assists (fourth) and 2.0 steals (second). On defense he’s usually the player Trautman assigns to guard the opposition’s best player.

“I think the season has been really good so far,” Martin said. “It’s been more than I hoped for. I have a hard time looking at things individually, since all I care about is winning. It’s been a lot of fun winning.”

And while Everett has specialized in dominant players in recent years — the Trojans produced the North Region MVP the past two seasons in Gio Jackson from Federal Way and Markieth Brown Jr. from Spokane — this is the first time during this era in which the team leader has been a Snohomish County product.

“I love it,” Trautman, Everett’s coach, said about having a local player be his best. “I want to get more local kids to be our best player. If I go to a Glacier Peak game people will ask how Bobby’s doing, everyone loves Bobby. So it’s kind of fun in that respect.”

None of this would have happened had it not been for an unfortunate bounce two years ago.

Glacier Peak was playing Skyview at the Class 4A high school state tournament, and Martin was having the kind of game seniors dream about in their final trips to state, scoring 24 points as the Grizzlies led by one in the final seconds. Martin was then fouled and went to the line for a one-and-one, but he missed the front end, and Skyview headed the other way for the game-winning putback.

That moment changed the arc of Martin’s athletic and academic careers.

“I was only talking to one NCAA Division III coach, but I didn’t want to spend that much money since they couldn’t offer me a scholarship, so I was going to call it quits for basketball,” Martin said. “But the way we lost at state, that left a bad taste in my mouth, it made me want to keep playing because I was unsatisfied.”

It ended up being Trautman’s easiest recruiting job.

“I had coached Bobby during the summer for AAU, so we already had a relationship,” Trautman said. “During his senior year I’d check up on him, but he always said he wasn’t going to play, so I didn’t put any pressure on him. Then I was down at the state tournament, he saw me in the crowd, came up to talk to me and said he’d changed his mind. He was like, ‘I missed that free throw last night and I’m mad about it and I want to play next year.’ OK, you’re in, you don’t have to ask me twice.”

Martin’s first season at Everett was derailed by injuries. First, he suffered a broken bone in his right hand just before the season started. Then shortly after he returned he suffered torn tendons in his left big toe. Martin played well in his brief time on the court, averaging 13.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in six games, but his season ended before the Trojans reached league play. Although Everett went 14-0 in the region, the Trojans fell to Lower Columbia 96-94 in the first round of the NWAC tournament. A healthy Martin may have been the difference between title contention and a first-round loss.

But now Martin is back to his all-energy, floor-diving self.

“He’s always going 100% no matter what,” Trautman said. “Sometimes it drives me nuts, because after he hurt himself twice last year I’m like, ‘It’s not necessary to dive on the floor to win every drill in every practice.’ But you can’t take that out of him.

“He sets the standard,” Trautman added. “When he’s playing 100% the others don’t have a choice but to do so as well.”

Now a player who never envisioned playing in college at all may end up playing basketball at a four-year school. Trautman said Martin is capable of playing at the NAIA or the NCAA Division II level. Martin redshirted last season, meaning he will have three years of eligibility following the season, something that could make him more attractive to coaches at four-year schools. Martin said he’s receptive to the possibility, but he’s still committed to becoming a nutritionist, so he’d only continue playing hoops if it was at a school that offered the programs that furthered his objective.

In the meantime, Martin and the Trojans get their biggest North Region test right off the bat, as Everett hosts undefeated Skagit Valley at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center. The Trojans’ 27-game North Region winning streak, which stretches back to their region opener two seasons ago, is on the line against a Cardinals team that’s ranked No. 3 in NWAC and just knocked off top-ranked Clackamas.

It’s the beginning of Everett’s drive toward what would be unprecedented in school history: A third straight region title. And it’s the local kid who never thought he’d play college ball who’s leading the charge.

If you have an idea for a community sports story, email Nick Patterson at npatterson@heraldnet.com.

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