In the spring of 2001, Yale men’s basketball coach James Jones did his best to convince Dominick Martin ’05, then a high school senior in North Carolina, that Yale was the place for him. In the spring of 2002, Martin, finishing his freshman year at Princeton, finally came to the same conclusion.
Martin, a 6-10, 225-pound center who started 21 games for the Tigers last season, is the newest addition to the Eli basketball program after transferring this summer, choosing to come to Yale over Harvard. Under NCAA rules, Martin will not be eligible to play until the 2003-2004 season, but he can practice with the team this year. While he has three years of NCAA eligibility remaining, it is unclear whether or not he will be able to use all three at Yale.
“I wasn’t really happy at Princeton. I wasn’t enjoying myself my first year and I didn’t see a change in sight,” Martin said. “So I decided I needed a change in scenery.”
Martin averaged 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 26 games for Princeton but said he was unhappy with the school’s location and its basketball program. So, in the spring, he asked for permission to transfer, applied to Yale, and this fall has traded in the Tigers’ ochre and black for the Bulldogs’ azure and white.
“We are a better fit for him and his style of play,” Jones said.
Jones sees Martin, a strong low-post player, as having vast potential for success in Yale’s up-tempo, freewheeling offense — much more than in Princeton’s deliberate, motion system.
It’s that same potential that had Jones making a heavy recruiting push for Martin in 2001. As a senior at A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, N.C., Martin averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds, drawing national attention.
Education and the opportunity for significant playing time being his top priorities, Martin said he turned down scholarship offers from Stanford and North Carolina State, among others, in favor of attending Princeton.
“We recruited him real hard, but he had some other opportunities,” Jones said. “We both feel he should have made the decision to come to Yale last year.”
Martin will join a deep Yale frontcourt in 2003-04, but his arrival on the court will coincide with the loss of current starting center T.J. McHugh ’03 to graduation, giving him the opportunity to make a big impact immediately.
But first, Martin has a year in which his only playing time will be during practice.
“It is going to be hard. I am going to have to grit my teeth and bear it, I guess,” Martin said. “Hopefully [next year], I will be able to come in and help the team win.”
Martin’s transfer from a perennial league force in Princeton to an up-and-coming Yale program also speaks to the shifting balance of power in the Ivy League, which for decades has been dominated by Princeton and Pennsylvania.
“It looks really good for Yale and our program that a guy from Princeton likes our program and wants to be a part of it,” Leanza said.