0

HAMMOCK: Martin merits Brookwood basketball honor

Will Hammock

Will Hammock

Eddie Martin's legacy as a Georgia high school basketball coach has grown immensely in recent years.

He lifted Norcross from an average program to one of the nation's best, winning three Class AAAAA state titles from 2006 to 2008 and becoming the first Georgia team to win three in a row in Georgia's highest classification since Lanier from 1938-40.

He made quick believers out of Greater Atlanta Christian last season, taking his first team to the Final Four. His reputation should only grow this season with the Spartans, considered Class AA state title favorites. Given more time at GAC, Martin could add greatly to a resume that already has 548 wins.

What he did at Norcross and what he may do at GAC likely will define Martin's career. In 20 years, when most basketball fans in the state remember his feats, those at the end of his career will shine brightest.

Yet what he did early in his career won't be forgotten. Not to those involved with the Brookwood basketball program. The Broncos will make sure of that this weekend, when they officially dedicate Martin Court to honor the coach who led the school's boys team from its first season in 1981 to 2001.

We all know what Martin did at Norcross. Sure, he's considered one of the best X's and O's coaches in the state, and that was evident during the title years. But he also had the benefit of great talent. His teams were led by future NBA stars like Jodie Meeks, Gani Lawal and Al-Farouq Aminu.

With all due respect to former Brookwood greats, there was no player of that caliber in the bunch. There were no NBA players and very few high-level college players. He got to coach 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9 players at Norcross after years of not getting a player taller than 6-4 or 6-5 at Brookwood.

But each year Martin took what he was given with the Broncos and overachieved. They never won a state title under the legendary coach, but they won a lot of basketball games. His last Brookwood season was one of his best, highlighted by a perfectly orchestrated upset of a Berkmar team that eventually won its second straight state title.

That's just one story of how Martin and Brookwood are tied together. It's a place the he will always consider home. He coached his two sons there. His wife Malinda, a fixture at the Broncos' scorers' table for so many years, still works at Brookwood.

Those ties will keep Martin linked to Brookwood forever. And so will his name on the Broncos' court, a fitting tribute for two decades that shouldn't be forgotten.

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.