The first time I got to see her play she was going to be an eighth-grader. She grabbed the rebound, went coast to coast on the Dee Events Center floor … I knew right then she was going to be something special. —Syracuse coach Rob Reisbeck
SYRACUSE — It would be easy for Brittney Martin to show off on the basketball court.
It would be understandable if the Syracuse senior tried to score every time she touched the ball.
It would be completely logical for an athlete with her talent to demand the ball because her skills are so impressive.
But as much as Martin's life has been shaped by basketball, she is not defined by her abilities or accomplishments. The first player to be named Deseret News Ms. Basketball twice in her prep career, Martin seemed born to be a basketball star.
Her father and grandfather were so anxious to get her started playing the game they love, that her mom worried she might tire of the sport before finishing high school.
"I had heard stories about kids getting burned out," said Natalie Martin. "But she never has. I don't know what she'd do without basketball. It's made her the person she is. It's made her a really responsible person."
Martin's talent was obvious almost from the start.
"The first time I got to see her play she was going to be an eighth-grader," said Syracuse coach Rob Reisbeck. "She grabbed the rebound, went coast to coast on the Dee Event Center floor … I knew right then she was going to be something special."
Reisbeck said the 6-foot guard could have rested on her natural ability, but that's not the kind of person she is.
"She's where she's at because of how hard she works and her dedication to always try to become a better player," said Reisbeck. "She deserves all the credit for what she's accomplished."
Martin, who averaged nearly 19 points per game, has an uncanny ability to score — no matter what a defense throws at her.
"She blows my mind," said teammate Makenlee Williams. "She does things and I just say, 'How did you do that? Will you teach me?'"
Alta coach Kristi Jensen said Martin's versatility made her almost impossible to stop.
"What can you do against a player like her?" asked Jensen. "You have to defend every part of her game. Most high school girls you don't have to do that. But Brittney had all of it — she could pull up and hit the jumper, drive to the basket, shoot the three, you had to prepare for everything."
Her determination and competitive drive helped her utilize her natural potential in unpredictable ways.
"When she wanted to turn it on, she could," said Jensen. "In the second half against us, she had 24 points. If she wants to get it done, she'll get it done, however she has to."
And Reisbeck said that despite her physical abilities, it is her attitude of team first that was her greatest strength.
"She's always been able to pass well," said Reisbeck. "She'd rather go out and get 10 assists than score 20 points. She just loves seeing her teammates succeed. She's always, always been that way."
That attitude, along with her sheer talent, helped the Titans to a phenomenal record. She finished her high school career with an 89-5 record. She had two perfect seasons — her sophomore and her senior years — and the team lost just one game her junior year.
In addition to averaging just under 19 points per game, she also averaged seven rebounds, five assists, five steals and two blocks per contest.
"Each year she got better," said Reisbeck. She improved on the court, as a teammate and as a student. The pressure of being so talented and so sought-after got the best of her and at the end of her sophomore year, she committed to the University of Utah.
She then decided she'd made the decision too early and withdrew that commitment to explore other options. Reisbeck said she was an average student until Oklahoma State entered the recruiting picture.
They helped her realize that while the scholarship they were offering was to play basketball, they needed her to perform even better in the classroom. With more attention to her schoolwork came a greater leadership role with her teammates.
And her naturally kind and unselfish nature helped turn her into one of the most effective guards in the state.
"She passes the ball better than anyone I've ever seen," said Reisbeck. "She just sees the floor so well and she's so unselfish … I think she's one of the best players to come out of Utah."
Her mother admires her daughter's drive and determination.
"She is always challenging herself to do better, play harder," said Natalie. "To do better in school and in basketball."
And maybe more important to her mother, is the giving attitude she extends to her younger brother.
"She pushes herself and she's a great example to her brother, " Natalie said. "She's done with basketball and I thought she'd take it easy, but she's still over at the gym with Andrew for two hours everyday. She's a great sister — and a great daughter."