LOS ANGELES — Up high in section 210B of Pauley Pavilion amongst a group of Utah basketball fans, sat a future Ute basketball player, one of the highest-ranked prep players ever to sign with the Utes.
Ian Martinez was sitting with some friends, watching the Utes take on UCLA Sunday afternoon and getting a preview of what he’ll be doing a year from now.
“I’m trying to get to know the team better and see what other things I can bring to the team,” he said. “Kind of get a feel to what it will like be next year.”
Martinez is a 4-star recruit, ranked as high as 53rd in national rankings and on several top-100 lists. He’s a 6-foot-3 combo guard, who plays for JSerra Catholic in San Juan Capistrano, California. So far, during his senior season, he’s averaging 24 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, although he’s sidelined for a couple of weeks with a hip pointer.
Martinez is the son of Henry Martinez, who joined the Utah staff as an assistant coach this year. Young Martinez said he’s been keeping in touch with the Ute program through his father.
“He tells me how everything works over there and what I need to do to prepare for when I get there,” said Ian. “He tells me he’s enjoying it there and that I made a good decision.”
Martinez was highly recruited and said his final four teams were Utah, USC, Arizona and Ole Miss with USC being a close second.
“They recruited me really hard from the beginning and I thought they did a better job than the others,” he said of Utah. “I started thinking about what I’m going to need to reach my goals of trying to get to the NBA and finish my education and thought that was a better spot for me.”
As for what he’ll bring to the Utes next year, Martinez said, “I can create for others and use my athleticism on both ends of the floor and I’m a good teammate.”
Martinez is part of a Utes’ recruiting class that was ranked in the top 10 nationally by 247 Sports. Others in the Utes’ recruiting class are Caleb Lohner, another top-100 recruit, a 6-6 forward who plays for Wasatch Academy, Pelle Larsson, a combo guard from Sweden and Mason Falslev, a 6-3 guard from Sky View High.