Dec. 6, 2017
By Brad Muller | More Features
Family is important to Frank Martin in his personal and professional life, so it’s not a stretch for his family tree to be made up of branches from his former players and assistant coaches, many of whom are now head coaches themselves. That includes Wyoming’s second year head coach Allen Edwards, who played high school basketball for Martin in Miami during the early 1990s, and now he brings his team to square off against the Gamecocks Wednesday night at Colonial Life Arena.
“It’s incredible,” Martin said about having Edwards on the opposing bench. “Allen and his family mean the world to me. Allen played for me when I was like 23 years old. I had no idea what I was doing, other than I knew how to yell. He never ran from it. On the contrary, he competed and worked. He went on to college and played for a national championship (at Kentucky). Even with all his accomplishments as a player, he never took a shortcut in the business. I’m extremely proud of Allen for how he has done it, the people he has surrounded himself with, and the way he leads.”
The feeling of pride is mutual for Edwards, who first met Martin as a child watching his older brothers play at Miami High School.
“I’ve always complimented him on his path,” Edwards said. “A lot of people see Frank now as the head coach of South Carolina and a Final Four head coach, but he started from the bottom, driving around 11-year-old kids and playing tournaments in the city of Miami, then high school, and now got his crack at [coaching] the college ranks. You look 30 years later, and say ‘man, that guy is successful,’ but he put in his time and put in the work.”
One of the things [Martin] doesn’t get enough credit for is how much he cares about the young men he coaches.
Martin and Edwards speak of the importance of family within a basketball program, and how much the that relationship has meant to each of them.
“At the end of the day, my brothers and I, and the guys that came from the community, we changed,” Edwards said. “It’s the discipline they tried to teach us at an early age, and they kept us away from what was going on within our community so that basketball was an outlet. Those guys in the Miami High School basketball family were teaching us basketball, and they were also teaching us about the game of life.
“One of the things [Martin] doesn’t get enough credit for is how much he cares about the young men he coaches. My relationship with Frank as a player and as colleagues now, still goes back to that understanding that if it’s within his power, he will try his best to help with whatever he can help you with. It’s not just a one, two, three, or four year deal. That’s something that goes beyond basketball.”
“I remember coaching Allen as a ninth grader on j.v. basketball,” Martin recalled. “He’s kind of a combination of his two older brothers, Doug and Steve. Doug was very serious, very reserved and very quiet. Steve was very outgoing, joking, laughing. Allen was a mixture of both. I’m really proud of him.”
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of that whole family.”
That includes Allen’s older brother Doug, who is on Martin’s staff as the director of student-athlete development. Now that the younger Edwards is no longer the student, Martin has all the respect in the world for him as a coach.
“After studying his team this week, I see why they won 20 or whatever games last year,” Martin said. “He’s got them playing good basketball, and I’m not surprised.”
While Martin will do everything to help the Gamecocks defeat his former student’s team, he can’t help but feel some emotion in seeing a former player leading young men on the other bench.
“Watching film, I’ve caught myself kind of staring at him on the sideline rather than pay attention to his team play,” Martin said. “It’s hard not to be mesmerized by someone. I met Doug when he was 14 or 15, so I met Allen when he was 8 or 9 years old. It’s hard to see a kid when he’s around your team when he’s 8 years old, who you end up coaching through his high school career, and you end up being a sounding board when he becomes a man. It’s hard not to be mesmerized a little bit by someone who has worked so hard to find success.”
Martin has had many former players and assistant coaches become head coaches at the high school and collegiate level, including Edwards, Brad Underwood (Illinois), Matt Figger (Austin Peay), and Erik Pastrana (Daytona State College). Martin noted that it’s important for him help former assistants and players get coaching jobs, and it’s certainly a point of pride to see them have success.
“The ones that want to do this for a living aren’t doing this to figure out what their won-loss record is,” Martin said. “They’re doing it because they want to impact young people. That’s the way that the coaches that I had in my life impacted me. That’s what drew me to coaching -- the competitiveness, but at the same time, the ability to see others succeed. I’m real proud that Allen pursued this as a career, and I’m not surprised that he is really good at it.”
When it’s all said and done, Martin hopes his former players and assistants remember the simple things as they move on in their careers.
“I hope he learned how to just be an everyday guy,” Martin said. “Just understand that you get a chance to get out of bed. Don’t whine. Don’t complain. Don’t pout. Don’t make excuses. On the contrary, go out there and work. When you’re leading, the tougher the times get, there are a lot of people depending on you to stand up. Allen gets that. I expect him to be a very successful coach for a long, long time.”
“It’s amazing when you look back at certain scenarios where sometimes as a young man, you didn’t get it,” Edwards said. “Now that you’re older and you see life differently, a lot of the teachings and the things he used to say when I was younger and in high school just make more sense.”
*Allen Edwards photo from Wyoming Athletics web site
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