College Sports

‘Proud to see my son do that.’ Frank, Brandon Martin share unique night

After being Coach, Frank Martin took a moment to be Dad.

With 12:02 left in the second half of South Carolina’s 65-52 win over USC Upstate on Tuesday, a Spartan hit a 3-pointer to cut the Gamecock advantage to nine. The nature of the play — the Upstate forward getting an open look due to a poor close-out from Carolina’s Justin Minaya — upset Martin because it was something the Gamecocks practiced against all week.

“We spent three days in practice talking about no short close-outs,” Martin said. “ ... So I got mad at Justin.”

But then he realized it was Brandon who capitalized on Justin’s mistake.

“It kind of hit me,” Martin said, “like, ‘Yo, that was your guy (shooting) with confidence.’ I said, ‘You know what? Good for him.’ It was a weird moment for me. I’ve never felt good about another guy making a 3 against us. That one felt pretty good.”

Brandon Martin came off the bench to score six points in 18 minutes Tuesday. Afterward, he shared a hug with the opposing coach and posed for photos with friends and family members at Colonial Life Arena’s mid-court.

The freshman’s first college game will be one he won’t ever forget.

“I was a little bit nervous,” Brandon Martin said, “especially playing against my dad.”

Brandon, a Cardinal Newman graduate who took a prep year at St. Thomas More in Connecticut, has been around Carolina basketball for a while. He was probably more familiar with Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar than any of his Spartan teammates.

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Safe to say he had a pretty good feel for the Gamecock coach, too.

The oldest of Frank’s three children was heavily supported Tuesday by a cheering section behind the USC bench. They wore matching white T-shirts that featured both the Upstate and Carolina logo and the words “WE ALL ARE FAMILY.”

“It’s hard,” Frank Martin said. “I don’t wind down real easy. The game ends, my mind is still racing on things we did well, didn’t do well. And I’m shaking hands and I totally forgot that my son Brandon was going to be in this line.

“I was shaking hands and then I looked up and I saw him behind the guy that I was going to shake hands next.

“I didn’t want to separate him from his team in that moment. But at the same time I needed to make sure that he knew that I’m extremely proud of who he’s become, who he’s grown into and to stay the course. He’s earning the coach’s trust. That’s why he played.

“That’s kind of what I said to him during the line. I’m really proud of him. He’s worked really hard. Five years ago, if you would have told me he was going to play Division I basketball, I would have said absolutely zero chance.”

Brandon Martin said it was “different” being in such a familiar place in unfamiliar colors.

“I know how they play because I would always go to practice and go to games and watch them play,” Brandon said. “So I know their strengths and their weaknesses. But I never thought I would be able to play in the Colonial Life Arena or against my dad.

“So that was a goal.”

Mission accomplished.

“To see him play with the aggression and the courage that he played with, that’s who I am,” Frank Martin said. “And it makes me proud to see my son doing that.”

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