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canada africa partner reservation Martin ‘does his best every day’ to become the Las Vegas Ace

Martin ‘does his best every day’ to become the Las Vegas Ace

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Iowa's Kate Martin, left, poses for a photo with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, right, after being selected 18th overall by the Las Vegas Aces during the second round of the WNBA basketball draft on Monday, April 15, 2024, in New York.

Iowa’s Kate Martin, left, poses for a photo with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, right, after being selected 18th overall by the Las Vegas Aces during the second round of the WNBA basketball draft on Monday, April 15, 2024, in New York.

Associated press

LAS VEGAS – Kate Martin knew something was up when she was asked to move to an aisle seat during the WNBA Draft on April 15.

In support of college teammate Caitlin Clark, Martin and her Iowa teammates were moved closer to the podium as the draft progressed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She was then asked to move from the middle of her row to the aisle.

When the cameras returned to Martin with the Las Vegas, Aces were on the clock with the 18e overall pick in the second, the 2018 Edwardsville High School graduate and former Iowa Hawkeye knew a dream was about to become a reality.

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“I heard my name called and it was so many emotions. It was a lot of luck. I felt very grateful,” Martin said. “To walk across the stage, it was a dream come true.”

Martin became the first former Edwardsville Tiger to be selected in the WNBA Draft. She was the 10e Edwardsville alum since 2000 to be selected in a major American sports draft.

But that walk across the stage at the WNBA Draft for Martin was just the beginning of a long journey to possibly making it to the Aces.

With 12 WNBA teams and rosters of up to 12 players per team, only 144 players will make it to the league.

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WNBA training camps began on April 28 and the Aces started with 17 players. The final selection must be a minimum of 11 or a maximum of 12 on May 13.

The Aces have already parted ways with three players, with Candace Parker retiring on April 28 and Brea Beal and Morgan Jones being waived on May 2. Beal and Martin have some history together, with Martin’s Edwardsville Tigers defeating Beal’s Rock Island Rocks in three straight sectionals. high school championship games before Martin’s Hawkeyes defeated Beal’s South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2023 NCAA Final Four.

Las Vegas opens the season at home against the Phoenix Mercury on May 14.

The two-time defending WNBA champions have an extensive roster that includes Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray and A’ja Wilson. Gray was the WNBA Finals MVP in 2022 and Wilson won the award in 2023 after being named the league’s MVP in 2022.

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“It’s hard not to be impressed every day when I walk into the complex,” Martin said during the team’s media day. “It was cool to see them work with their warm-up routines and everything they do to work like a pro. These women are amazing and they are very good at their jobs.”

Less than two months ago, Martin finished her career at Iowa with 1,299 points, 756 rebounds and 473 assists, 148 steals and 70 blocks in 163 games. She is the only player in program history with at least 900 points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists, 120 steals and 60 blocks.

Now Martin takes up the challenge of creating the Aces.

What was the biggest adjustment to the professional game?

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“The speed, the physicality and the terminology,” Martin responded during media day. “Every level of basketball you can get to is going to be more difficult.”

Martin took up the challenge with both hands.

“I try to take it day by day,” Martin said in an interview with Will Despart with The Sporting Tribune. “Some days I feel like I’m doing really well and other days I might not be hitting my shots. Whatever happens, I try to make sure my 110 percent effort is there and I go hard in every training session, every time I’m on the field.

A week after training camp, Martin learned the Aces system under coach Becky Hammon.

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Martin said if she has questions about a particular piece or set, the veterans are very willing to help.

“All questions I ask are very welcoming and answered with open arms. I was really lucky with that. They did that with every newcomer,” Martin said in an interview with Will Despart. “(The veterans) have been in the league for a long time – I don’t call them old or anything – and anything I can learn from them and absorb from them, I’ll do.”

Martin said her approach during training camp was to keep it simple. She tries not to do too much.

‘I’m just being myself here. I don’t have to be anyone else. I don’t have to be the star player,” Martin told Despart. “You see the talent that the Aces have, I know my role would be as a role player if I luckily make the team. I’ve been in that position before. I know how to be a role player and support stars. I’ve been doing that for a number of years.”

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Martin played alongside Clark at Iowa for the past four seasons. The two started their last 139 games together, helping the Hawkeyes to consecutive second-place finishes in the NCAA Tournament.

Regardless of what Martin’s fate will be in Vegas, the opportunity this past month will likely pay big dividends in her future. Martin has spoken openly about her desire to coach one day. After playing for Lori Blade at EHS and Lisa Bluder at Iowa, she now gets the opportunity to play for another legendary coach in Hammon.

After a 16-year playing career in the WNBA, Hammon was an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs from 2014 to 2022 before taking over the Aces.

“(Hammon) was phenomenal. It’s really cool to listen to her and see how she views the game. She has great experience. It is very cool to be able to learn from her and broaden my knowledge. I always try to become better and smarter,” Martin told Despart.

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However, Martin hopes her own coaching career begins later rather than sooner.

“I do my utmost every day to give myself the best chance of making the team,” Martin told Despart.

That best effort is the relentless work ethic that led to her nickname “The Glue” at Iowa.

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“My intention is to come in and give 110 percent every day, not take away from my reputation and work really hard and be a good teammate,” Martin said during media day. “That’s what I do every day.”