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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Hoop Dreams: Costa Rican considered NBA talent

“Ian Martinez wants to be the first player from Costa Rica to play in the NBA.”

That’s the opening line from a 2020 story in the Los Angeles Times profiling the point guard from Heredia. While Martinez is still in college and the 2022 NBA Draft is nearly a year away, the 20-year-old is on-track to achieve his lofty goal. considers Martinez the 18th-best NBA prospect for next year. An early mock draft from that publication has the prospect going to Houston as a late first-round pick.

“He’s a special player,” Pat Barrett, founder of the Southern California All-Stars AAU program for which Martinez played, told the Los Angeles Times. “To me, he’s the most athletic kid that I’ve ever had.”

Martinez moved to Southern California before high school, earning a visa due to his basketball talents.

As a freshman in college with Utah, the Costa Rica native appeared in 25 games, and he averaged 9.7 points over the team’s final six games. His improvement led to a career-high night with 18 points against USC in the PAC-12 Tournament. 

A coaching change provoked Martinez’s transfer to Maryland in April 2021. Though a meniscus tear sidelined him for much of the summer, he has since returned to practice and should have no limitations when the college basketball season begins in November.

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