Agents sure to play up injury

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 13, 2000

The loss of Kenyon Martin to the NCAA Tournament is not only disappointing to basketball fans, but it’s unfortunately a tool for the underhanded sports agents who prey on young men’s dreams.

I can hear someone like Tank Black now talking to a standout underclassman:

&uot;If Kenyon Martin would have skipped his senior year, he would not have broken his leg and his stock would not have dropped for the NBA Draft.&uot;

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Sure, Martin will recover and be just as good as he was at Cincinnati, but sports agents have no conscience and you can rest assured they will make it sound like Martin is through when talking to those talented underclassmen.

I can just see someone like Black approaching someone like LSU super sophomore Stromile Swift and saying, &uot;See, that could happen to you and even be worse. No NBA team is going to want to take a chance on someone who broke their leg. There goes all of his millions he could have gotten last year.

The tragedy is that Martin stayed around for his senior year and had the Bearcats at the top of the poll most of the year.

In case you missed it, the 6-foot-9, 240-pound Martin was setting a screen in the Conference USA quarterfinals when he bumped into Saint Louis’ Justin Love. Martin’s ankle turned underneath him as he fell, breaking his right fibula and ripping several ligaments.

Gone in that instant were his dreams of leading top-ranked Cincinnati to its first national championship since the 1960s and the days of Oscar Robertson.

It was a freak injury. Dr. Angelo Colosimo was quoted as saying it happens frequently for football players whose feet get stuck in the turf, but rarely for a basketball player.

Colosimo said doctors will insert a screw into Martin’s ankle, and that he should be able to start running in about eight weeks.

That won’t be soon enough for the Bearcats, who had been looking for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Martin led Conference-USA with 19.5 points and 10 rebounds a game. He also had the top field-goal percentage (57 percent) and is the career leader in blocked shots for both Cincinnati and Conference USA with 292. He set the single-season mark with 107.

With Martin, Cincinnati set a regular-season record with 28 victories. The Bearcats also had the first undefeated record in conference play at 16-0.

Unfortunately, that’s not the type of statistics money-hungry sports agents find interesting.

n Alcorn State’s men’s team saw its season come to an end at the Southwestern Athletic Conference, falling to eventual champion Jackson State in the semifinals.

The Braves did a good job of winning the regular season, but were not the cream of the crop like they were last year.

It may be just as well Alcorn is not going to the ‘Big Dance’ because they are not the same team they were last year, although not far off.

Give Alcorn another good recruiting year and the Braves will be back at the top very soon.

Meanwhile, congratulations to the SWAC Tournament champion Lady Braves and a class act in coach Shirley Walker.

Ironically, Walker will be going to the NCAA Women’s Tournament, while son Marino Walker will be going to the men’s tournament with Jackson State.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at