Arlington’s Leyton Martin poses for a photo at Arlington High School on Sunda in Arlington. Martin is The Herald’s 2023-24 Boys Basketball Player of the Year. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Arlington’s Leyton Martin poses for a photo at Arlington High School on Sunda in Arlington. Martin is The Herald’s 2023-24 Boys Basketball Player of the Year. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

The Herald’s 2023-24 Boys Basketball Player of the Year: Leyton Martin

Arlington’s do-it-all junior point guard led the Eagles to a district title and second straight Hardwood Classic.

There’s only a finite amount of things that Arlington High School star point guard Leyton Martin can’t do on a basketball floor.

The 6-foot maestro delivered special performances on a regular basis for the Eagles this season, and the junior showed just how dangerous he can be as playmaker.

Martin has been around Arlington’s program since he could barely walk, and head coach Nick Brown said he was always a kid that liked listening into team meetings and game-planning sessions.

“He’s just always hung around,” Brown said. “He’s a sponge. … He’s always picked up on everything. People probably think that things come easy to him, and I think they do. But, they come easy to him and he works so hard on it, he doesn’t just sit back and go on his talent.”

The Eagles needed every ounce of what Martin had to offer this winter — and he cleaned house, letting loose for gaudy season averages of 25.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 3.6 steals per outing as he often dictated the outcome of games when the rock was in his hands. For his efforts, Martin The Herald’s 2023-24 Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Much like he was as a starting quarterback last fall, Martin wasn’t one to shy away in crucial moments. He tended to force his will in the clutch instead.

Whether it was reeling off 18 fourth-quarter points to lift his team over Mountlake Terrace in the Class 3A District 1 title bout, or dropping a school-record 43 points to one-up his older Ethan Martin’s previous record of 42 in the Eagles’ overtime victory against Marysville Getchell in the state regionals, he showed up big when it mattered most.

“In the years that I’ve done this, there’s kids who when you need them to make a shot, they don’t get rattled,” Brown said. “Leyton is a great shooter, but he’s also a clutch shooter. His brother was that way too.”

Arlington’s Leyton Martin holds up the Class 3A District 1 championship trophy in celebration on Feb. 17 in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Arlington’s Leyton Martin holds up the Class 3A District 1 championship trophy in celebration on Feb. 17 in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Leyton Martin’s dominant showings forced Brown to let go of the reins at times during the season.

“I gave him a lot more freedom this year,” Brown said. “He’s one of the best scorers I’ve ever had (and) with a guy like Leyton, you kind of need to let him go. … I’m also a believer in doing things the right way, we always want to do things correctly. But I’ve had to adjust some of those things with Leyton, because he takes good shots and does things right.”

Martin posted 15.1 points as a sophomore, adding 7.1 boards and 5.8 assists per game, while helping the Eagles reach the Hardwood Classic for the first time since 2013. However, with the absence of former standout and 2023 graduate David Zachman, who redshirted at Seattle Pacific University this past season, Martin was aware he’d have to take another step and shoulder an even heavier load if Arlington was going to make it back-to-back trips to the Tacoma Dome.

Step one was getting stronger.

Martin packed on around 10-15 pounds worth of muscle in the offseason, and for a guard who has knack for cleaning up the glass and battling in the paint against longer players, it made noticeable a difference.

“I was pretty scrawny last year,” Martin said. “I feel like that was part of what was holding me back from reaching my potential.”

Arlington’s Leyton Martin attempts a layup while being guarded during the Class 3A boys state tournament game Feb. 28 in Tacoma. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Arlington’s Leyton Martin attempts a layup while being guarded during the Class 3A boys state tournament game Feb. 28 in Tacoma. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

He also knew he’d have to become more aggressive as scorer and as a passer, and he accomplished both. Martin flirted with a triple-double on most occasions, accomplishing the feat twice over the course of the year.

When it comes to his reliable scoring presence, things start with his feathery shooting touch, both in the key and on the perimeter. When he’s hurting opposing defenses with his passing vision, fellow junior teammates Billy Kooy and Jake Willis were a few of his go-tos.

“I had a great group of guys around me and they all made it a lot more fun,” Martin said. “They’ve helped me to get me where I’m at right now.”

But if there’s one thing the three-sport athlete likes to do the most, it’s win. With losses by two possessions or less in round-of-16, loser-out games against defending state champions at the Hardwood Classic in each of the past two postseasons, a victory at the Tacoma Dome still motivates Martin and the rest of the crew.

“We took fifth place in 2013, and we were on a mission then,” Brown said. “And it had been a while since we had been there at the Dome. … We were happy to be there, but we all wanted more. It wasn’t a dry eye this year, we were all upset and sad, and we felt like we belonged there for at least another day.”

Arlington’s Leyton Martin fakes out Garfield’s Marcel Jones during the Class 3A boys state tournament game Feb. 28 in Tacoma. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Arlington’s Leyton Martin fakes out Garfield’s Marcel Jones during the Class 3A boys state tournament game Feb. 28 in Tacoma. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Martin made his presence felt in Tacoma, concluding his junior year by hanging up 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in a masterful performance against Garfield, but the Eagles didn’t have enough in the tank to close the Bulldogs out in overtime after Martin had fouled out late in the fourth quarter.

“It wasn’t the way we wanted to go out,” Martin said. “But it was a lot of fun, being able to go create a lot of memories that we’ll have forever. As a team, we want to get back to the Dome and place this time.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Glacier Peak High School graduate Matt King was selected to the U.S. Olympic team in men’s swimming. King was selected as a member of the 400 freestyle relay team. (Matt Riley / University of Virginia athletic communications)
Glacier Peak grad Matt King headed to the Olympics

King was selected in men’s swimming as a member of the 400-meter freestyle relay team.

Glacier Peak’s Karsten Sweum (10) poses for a portrait as The Herald's All-Area Baseball Player of the Year at Glacier Peak High School on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2024 Baseball Player of the Year: Glacier Peak’s Karsten Sweum

The smoke-throwing senior left-handed pitcher struck out more than two batters per inning.

Lake Stevens’ Trey Nance deals early in the game during a playoff loss to Bothell on Saturday, May 4, 2024, in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
The Herald’s 2024 All-Area baseball team

Editor’s note: The Player of the Year and All-Area teams were chosen… Continue reading

Glacier Peak grad King comes up just short in Olympic bid

King placed third in the men’s 50 freestyle at U.S. Olympic trials, but still could qualify in a relay.

Shorewood senior Isaak Abraham poses for a portrait as The Herald's Boys Soccer Player of the Year at Shorewood High School on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 in Shoreline, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2024 Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Shorewood’s Isaak Abraham

The Stormrays senior forward led Shorewood to Wesco 3A/2A and Class 3A District 1 titles.

Everett’s J’aiden Cranwell-Meneses leaves a Monroe defender in the dirt while advancing the ball during a 3A District soccer match on Thursday, May 2, 2024, at Monroe High School in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
The Herald’s 2024 All-Area boys soccer team

Editor’s note: The Player of the Year and All-Area teams were chosen… Continue reading

Lake Stevens High School graduate Taylor Roe competes for Oklahoma State University at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 8 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University)
Taylor Roe competes at the Olympic trials this weekend

Now that the Lake Stevens H.S. graduate’s decorated college running career is done, the pro ranks are next.

Soccer legends to be part of local Copa America watch party

Pete Fewing, Marcus Hahnemann will be on hand at Angel of the Winds Arena for next Thursday’s U.S. game.

Mukilteo’s Beard places second in hammer at U20 nationals

The King’s High School sophomore has a chance to represent the U.S. at U20 worlds.

Sounders complete purchase of NWSL’s Seattle Reign

Now both of Seattle’s pro soccer teams are under the umbrella of one ownership group.

Women’s PGA Championship offers fans chance to watch and learn

The women’s golf major tournament comes to Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish beginning Thursday.

Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on June 16, 2024, in Seattle, Washington. (Alika Jenner / Getty Images)
Mariners week: Gilbert’s brilliance lifts Seattle to sweep

Seattle’s 8 1/2-game lead in the AL West is its largest since the 2001 season.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.