ASHLAND — It didn't take long for Justin Martin to foreshadow events to come for the sixth-ranked Southern Oregon University men's basketball team.
The Crater High graduate splashed home a 3-pointer just seven seconds after checking into SOU's opener against Pacific Union. He would miss his second and drill his third and final attempt in mop-up duty during the 88-45 Raider rout.
WHO: A 6-foot guard for the Southern Oregon University men's basketball team.
Martin hasn't missed much since.
The redshirt freshman is connecting on 69.2 percent (18-of-26) of his 3-point attempts while playing in 11 of SOU's 18 games. The 6-foot guard hasn't cooled much as the season has progressed, even as his minutes have slowly increased.
"He's been making shots since the first game — it's pretty crazy," says SOU coach Brian McDermott.
Martin is just short of qualifying for the top 3-point percentage in the nation. To be eligible a player must have participated in 75 percent of his team's games. Martin is at 61 percent.
Charles Perry-Smith of Montreal (N.C.) leads the NAIA in 3-point percentage at 59.5, making 22 of 37 attempts.
"We talked about getting (Martin) a bunch of minutes so he could get a bunch of (3-point) attempts to get his shooting percentage lower," McDermott laughs. "That way people wouldn't call us idiots for not getting him in there."
Martin has been getting in with more frequency recently.
He played a season-high 17 minutes and scored nine points on 3-of-4 makes from beyond the arc in an 84-64 win over Corban last Saturday. Martin's 3 midway through the second half sparked a 9-0 run that helped the Raiders (15-3, 4-2 Cascade Conference) pull away.
"I know my role," says Martin, a marketing major with a 3.59 GPA who has missed his only two 2-point field goal attempts. "(3-point shooting) is what I bring to the team. If I'm open, and if it's a good shot, I take it.
"When I get in, a lot of it's matchups. I'm kind of a situational guy."
As a team, the Raiders are shooting just under 40 percent, with senior guard Kyle Tedder leading the team in attempts (114) and junior post Eric Thompson paving the way in makes (46).
Martin has also had to improve in other aspects of the game to earn his minutes.
"He had to get better at staying in front of his man and at handling the ball," says McDermott. "It was an adjustment for him, as it is with all kids learning a new offense. But he's a hard worker and he's gotten better in those areas.
"Right now, we like him to get up shots."
Martin knows his role and embraces it.
"I have great support from my teammates," he says. "They look for me, and even when my shot doesn't fall they still look for me. It's a great feeling to get that kind of support, especially from the older guys."
Martin walked on at SOU following his time at Crater High. He drew mild interest from a handful of schools out of high school but his ties to the SOU coaching staff ultimately won out.
"I played for (SOU assistant) Brant Minor's AAU team," Martin says. "He kept tabs on me (during high school) and knew what I could do."
Martin came to the Raiders with AAU teammate Jordan Browne-Moore, a North Medford graduate.
Browne-Moore, a 6-3 forward, has played in six games this season.
"Jordan has a big line ahead of him," says McDermott. "He has a couple All-Americans (Eric Thompson and David Sturner) that play ahead of him.
"We hope he keeps working hard. He does that and he'll get his minutes."
Another local product, Cascade Christian's Alex Miller, is redshirting his freshman season.
The Raiders travel to take on Evergreen tonight in Olympia, Wash. They wrap up the two-game road trip Saturday against Northwest.
Martin hopes the upward trend in minutes continues.
"I just have to be ready and know my role," Martin says. "Whatever I can do to help this team out, I will do."