Commencement 2017: Winning player Hassan Martin graduates with degree and a lifetime of memories

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Hassan Martin. URI photo by Nora Lewis

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 15, 2017 — Everyone celebrated the University’s run to the Atlantic 10 Championship and the NCAA Tournament this spring as the men’s basketball team earned their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1999. The Atlantic 10 Champs were the #11 seed and made Rhody fans very proud during and after the games.

What fans may not know is that part of their pride was generated by graduating senior Hassan Martin. He was an integral part of making 2016-17 a winning season and is considered by many to be the team’s emotional core and strength. Known as “Hassy,” to most people, the 6′ 7″ senior forward was the cornerstone for the heart and soul of the team since he joined in 2013. He has relished every moment of more than 130 games during the last four years and the tight friendships built within the team.

“Since I started, I just wanted to change the program and do big things,” said Martin, reflecting on the team’s success. “And that’s what we did — making the team’s first tournament appearance after almost two decades. That’s just so special to me.”

The third of seven sons from Staten Island, N.Y., Martin’s entire family will be at commencement to watch the final tip-off — his walk across the stage in an academic robe, not on the basketball court in Rhody gear. Hassan will receive his Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies from URI’s Harrington School of Communication and Media in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Reflecting on his years as a student, Martin explained it wasn’t easy. “When we were on the road, traveling, I’d have a paper due Tuesday, a game Wednesday and another assignment due on Friday,” he said. “It was hectic when I first got here, but as it went along, I just got used to it.

“Coming to college and being on the dean’s list wasn’t only something for me, but for my mom and dad. They were really happy to see me succeed off the court like that. That’s just a great example for my little brothers that I had to do really well in school, that was a great moment for me,” Martin said with pride.

Perhaps one of the most underrated players in the country, and now with his degree complete, Martin may be an NBA pick this season. He is a force on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he is one of the nation’s best shot-blockers. Offensively, he averages 14.1 points per game (second on the team) and is shooting a team-best 60.0 percent from the field. Taking it one day at a time, Martin says if he doesn’t join a national team, he may consider international career options.

For four years, Martin has given everything he has to Rhode Island. And that goes far beyond the game as he commands respect from those around him through his work ethic. As reported earlier this spring on the team’s website, when his teammates speak about Martin, it’s more about the man he is than the player. “Hass isn’t just a teammate. Since my visit, he’s been a big brother to me,” junior Jarvis Garrett said. “He welcomed me with open arms. Even though he’s younger than me, I call him my little big brother. I look up to him.”

“He is just a leader,” junior E.C. Matthews said. “He is somebody you can really look up to. He should be the example of what everyone wants their career to be like. He’s a great person off the court. I can go on and on about Hassy.”

During his years at URI Hassan earned a number of awards. He was named to the A-10 All Rookie team as a freshman, the A-10 All Second Team twice, the A-10 All Defensive Team three times, and the conference’s best defensive player the last two seasons. Although he missed five games due to injury during the 2016-17 season, he still became a second team selection, all defensive selection and Defensive Player of the Year.