Rising like a Phoenix, Martinelli makes his mark

Charlie Mihelic, Staff Writer

After a long and prosperous three years playing basketball as a Titan, senior Nick Martinelli looks forward to his fourth and final season before heading off to play as a Pheonix at Elon University in North Carolina.

This past summer, two weeks after committing to Elon University for basketball on July 3, Martinelli participated in the Nike Peach Jam Tournament, a highly esteemed youth basketball circuit where he proceeded to average 15.3 points per game off the bench. Martinelli held the second-highest scoring average on his Nike Meanstreets team, and was playing in front of some of the biggest names in basketball. Among the coaches were Tom Izzo, Michigan State head coach, and John Shire, Duke head coach. However, Martinelli  remained unphased. 

“Regardless of who would have offered me, whether it be Ohio State or Duke or whoever, I would have stayed at Elon,” Martinelli said.

After relentless phone calls and messages from coaches, Martinelli feels relieved to be done with the recruitment process. He is confident that he has found his home for the next step in his career, emphasizing that the coaching staff was a big part of that decision. 

“Elon’s coaches are all great guys,” Martinelli said. “Head Coach Mike Schrage coached at Duke for six years and Ohio State for two years and is obviously well-respected. There are also a couple of younger coaches that I look up to like Andrew Dakich, I’m a big Ohio State University fan and he played there from 2017-2018. They all really believe in me and I believe in them as well.”

One of Martinellis’ teammates, senior Spencer Brown, has seen Martinelli play over the years and is well aware of his abilities. Adding that Martinelli’s array of offensive moves makes him easily stand out in any offense to recruiters. 

“His length and strength, along with an elite lefty hook, [allows] him to score almost every time in the post,” Brown said. “But when he needs to, he can also cover the perimeter with solid ball handling and shooting.” 

Praising Martinelli for his active approach to being recruited, Phillip Ralston, boys’ basketball head coach, commends Martinelli’s patient and responsible approach to the recruitment process. Ralston elaborated that all too often, players are blinded by their first Division One offer and feel the need to accept it right away. Ralston said he talked to Martinelli about getting a feel for a plethora of different schools, and being confident in his final decision.

“Usually, whenever he would have a visit, he would call me right away and would tell me about it,” Ralston said. “But he waited to talk about Elon until he was back from North Carolina before he even said anything.”

After officially visiting Elon, it only took one day for Martinelli to make up his mind.

“I really felt that it was a special place when I saw the campus,” Martinelli said. “It was gorgeous and I met a lot of great people. Elon just seemed like a home for me and I was super excited to tell the coaches.”

The special feeling that Martinelli has about Elon is one that Ralston endorses. He was glad to see that the Elon coaches recognized the ability and uniqueness of Martinelli that South has seen for the past three years.

“We couldn’t be happier for him,” Ralston said. “There were a lot of upper-echelon mid-major universities and maybe even some major universities that probably could have taken Nick and he would have had a great career with them, but, I think Elon has got a four-year starter for their program, and he is just going to have a phenomenal career there.”