WINNING WITH HUMILITY


Athletics // March 2, 2021

New coaches, new teammates, new conference— Lion guard Kortland Martin has had to deal with a lot of new during his time at FHU. His humility and work ethic not only helped him get through those changes but turned him into one of the top guards in the country also.

Lion coach Drew Stutts has been around for the majority of Martin’s FHU career, since he was the assistant coach for the Lions before being named the head coach in the summer of 2019. Stutts realizes the changes the program has had to endure during Martin’s time as a Lion, and he has the utmost respect for the way he has handled those changes.

“Kortland has experienced a lot over the course of his career here at FHU. There have been some ups and downs, and many changes within the program,” Stutts said. “But his consistency, no matter the situation, has been truly unbelievable.”

Martin came to FHU in 2017 out of Humboldt, Tennessee. He saw the floor in all 30 games his freshman season, averaging nearly 13 points per game. He only played in 19 games his sophomore season, but he was called upon heavily to do the team’s scoring. That year, he scored 25 points in seven games and had what was at the time a career-high 41 points in one game. He was placed on the American Midwest Conference’s Third Team All-Conference team.

In his junior season, the first season under Stutts as the head coach, he averaged nearly 17 points per game, including a contest where he scored an FHU single-game record 44 points against Missouri Baptist. This season he set a single-game record of 16 assists against Crowley’s Ridge. For his efforts, conference coaches named him First Team All-Conference. He also garnered All-American honorable mention recognition.

“The thing about Kortland that is special is that he doesn’t mind taking on different roles because at the end of the day, he just wants to win,” Stutts said. “That attitude and approach speak to his character and the young man he is on and off the court. Kortland is simply a winner.”

While his role on the court has seemed to change from year to year, Martin feels that it doesn’t matter what it takes, he’s willing to do whatever he needs to do to help his team win. And his confidence in Stutts and Assistant Coach Jake Mitchell – and their confidence in him – make that task easier.

“My relationship with Coach Stutts and Coach Mitchell  has always been positive,” Martin said. “They know that I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I’m surrounded by great players with great skill sets. They do an awesome job of putting the ball in the basket, and I get to do the easy part of just getting it to them in their spots.”

Since Martin has been a Lion, the team has gone from a 10-20 record his freshman season to another losing record his sophomore season (only winning seven games) all the way to finishing 18-10 last season with an appearance in the American Midwest Conference Tournament. Currently, the Lions are 9-5 overall and 4-4 in the Mid-South Conference.

“Thus far, the best part about my basketball career at FHU would be playing in the AMC Tournament last year,” Martin said. “We didn’t get the outcome we would have liked, but the experience and atmosphere were great. Now we are just striving for a better outcome than last year.”

Martin has really seen it all in the last three seasons, and there isn’t any doubt in his coaches’ or teammates’ minds that he has been one of the largest parts of this incredible turnaround.

“He has really matured over the past three to four years,” Stutts said. “Last year, he began to become more vocal on and off the court, talking with his team and coaches. He’s become one of our leaders.”

Stutts added, “Earlier in the year, we met as a team and learned about what a leader or captain is on a team. Every member of our program – coaches, managers, players – voted on who our three team captains should be, and Kortland received every first-place vote. He has really grown and matured as a young man over the past four years, and I am proud to have him leading our team this season.”

This turnaround that the Lion basketball program has made over the last two years would not have been possible without Martin. His ability and leadership have been the cornerstone of what the Lions are trying to build now and in the future.

“Kortland is just a special young man. He isn’t just a talented player; he is a special person,” Stutts said. “He is mentoring some of the younger players on our team who are going through the same maturation process he went through. I love Kortland, and I am so thankful I have had a chance to be his coach.”