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Q&A: Tyrese Martin recaps rookie season, Skyhawks stint, and being a “dog” in the league

College Park Skyhawks v Raptors 905 Photo by Christian Bonin/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks made a trade with the Golden State Warriors on draft day 2022 to acquire the 51st pick, Tyrese Martin.

Martin wasn't on anybody's mock drafts, so he immediately had a chip on his shoulder when he came in. He turned his opportunity into gold during the NBA 2K23 Summer League with the Hawks, where he showcased an array of skills on both sides of the ball.

That landed him a contract with the Hawks, but he saw most of his time with the College Park Skyhawks where was able to work on his game, averaging 18 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 23 games.

Martin spoke with Peachtree Hoops towards the end of the season to recap his rookie year.

MB: How was your rookie season?

TM: It was good for me being down with the Skyhawks for most of it, and coming up in spurts trying to just pick up things with the Hawks. They wanted to implement certain things or aspects of my game, and they wanted me to do it with the Skyhawks. I felt like that was good for me to have a lot of reps down here to do that. I feel like it was a successful season.

MB: The Skyhawks have built up a few players, and most recently it being Jalen Johnson. Last season he was there for an extensive time and now he's playing meaningful minutes with the Hawks. How have the Skyhawks helped your game?

TM: I talked to Jalen at the beginning of the season and how he would handle coming up and down from the Hawks to the Skyhawks. He said it got annoying at first, but I feel like we had that thing in common when we were brought up to the Hawks, and just watching. It was good to support the team, but every competitor wants to go out there and play. He told me he got to a moment where he just wants to stay down with the Skyhawks and work on his game. We both did that, and I ended up telling these guys up here I wanted to stay down there and play as many games as I can. We agreed on it and I feel like it worked out for me in a good way.

MB: I know coach Steve Gansey has been a big help to all the guys in the locker room. What did he do for your game, and how did he help you during your rookie season?

TM: He’s been a great help. It’s kind of hard when you got assignment guys coming back and forth because it can mess up the fluidity of a team, but he was great about it. He saw that goal that I had for myself, and I bought into what he had planned for the Skyhawks. He was always reminding me of little things, like making quick decisions, he had the ball in my hands a lot, so I was making reads in the pick and roll. I felt like I got better at that. In transition, being able to knock down corner threes and threes off pin downs, and getting them off fast. things like that. Working on good shots and making good shots consistently was one of the big things I felt like I got down towards the end of the season. At the beginning of the season, I was trying to do too much with the ball, and then once I calmed down and realized what it was, it helped me for the better.

MB: We saw a rise in your game with the Skyhawks in December. You had your career high with 31 points, then you followed that up with 32 points, and then a couple of weeks later you drop 46 points. What was working for you at the time?

TM: Just sticking with it, staying in the gym, sticking to what works for me, and then trying to master what works for me. That’s what I really stuck with towards the whole process in December and November, kind of all the way through, just sticking to what worked for me and just trying to master that. When I did that I was always successful. If I keep doing that going forward hopefully things will still pay off.

MB: Dejounte Murray mentioned after one of the games how the guys on the team had a chip on their shoulders, and I know you talked about adversity in one of your interviews when you first got drafted. What is your mindset going into a game?

TM: My family and where I come from, nothing was easy. The basketball can stop bouncing any day for me. I look at every time I go out there as an opportunity to feed myself and my family and if I leave any food on the plate out there, that’s a missed meal. That’s been my whole mindset after leaving college and realizing I wasn’t on any mock drafts, I really had to go out to every event and prove myself against all these guys. I'm going to keep doing that day in and day out whenever I step on a court against someone.

MB: Was there any advice or one key thing you heard during the season that helped you?

TM: Not anything particular but a couple of people told me to stay true to who I am. Don’t try to change who I am as a person on and off the court. Off the court, I get that I’m a great person and play around a lot with everybody, but on the court, I have to be that dog that they want, and a fierce competitor.

MB: What are some things you’re looking to improve on in your game?

TM: Keep fine-tuning my jump shot and getting consistent. You can never have enough shots or reps. Also making quicker reads, ball handling, and things like that. I’m going to take advantage of this offseason, and come Summer League I'm going to be ready to be even better than last year.

MB: Is there someone that you model your game after?

TM: I really don’t have somebody I model my game after, but there are guys that I see that bring value to the court without the basketball, something I feel like I do very well. Some guys that I take things from are like PJ Tucker, the way he knocks down the corner threes, plays hard, plays defense, and gets extra possessions on the offensive glass. Josh Hart, the way he rebounds at his position on the wing, hits threes and makes plays. Guys like that stick out to me in terms of watching them and how they impact the game without the ball.

MB: Those players that you mentioned are sometimes considered the “dogs” on their team, and I know you mentioned that earlier. Do you take pride in that, getting those extra possessions and doing the small things at your size?

TM: I definitely take pride in that. I was kind of in a different situation with Skyhawks. It was hard to be that guy because I had the ball a lot so my role is a little different in order to be that guy, but I feel like with the Hawks, I’d be able to be that guy with the minutes or opportunities I get to make things happen without the ball. I take pride in that for sure. I feel like it’s who I am and attesting to where I come from, nothing’s ever been easy, so you have to figure out a way out on your own.