Give Cyril a chance
“Different problems… you know, I think they’re competitive but maybe just lacking the horsepower of the team from two years ago. So, they can play hard, they can do some things, but they always seem to have some issues crop up on them. It’s been a tough year for them,”
That’s the way Georgia Tech beat reporter Ken Sugiura describes the recent ups and downs that have come with GT men’s basketball. Two seasons ago the Yellow Jackets were 17-9, they were ACC champions, they were playing in march madness, but the past two years haven’t been as good. A 12-20 record last year, and an 8-10 start to this season has head coach Josh Pastner maybe re-tooling his recruitment style.
“I think one thing he said a lot from the time he started is that he wanted to kind of pattern himself on how Virginia and Notre Dame have been successful, and that’s bringing in guys that maybe aren't the blue chip kids that North Carolina and Duke and Kentucky are getting, but guys that they believe in, can do the things they want them to do, and then develop them overtime, and by the time they’re juniors and seniors are ready to contribute,” Sugiura said.
Enter Cyril Martynov, a seven-foot freshman out of Canada. Martynov actually reclassified from the class of 2023 to 22 in order to play in college sooner. And he was prepared for the jump after spending the last spring and summer with Uplay Canada, the country’s most accomplished club program. Uplay has produced eight NBA players in the last five years, including names like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and RJ Barrett. However, for CEO and founder Dwayne Washington, on-court skills are not necessarily the biggest factor in taking a player.
“I recruit everybody that comes to the program, there’s not one kid that comes through the program that I don’t talk to their families myself. So if you come into the program, you have to be somebody that's a long-termer. That means no matter how tall you are, how high you jump, what your parents did, if you don’t play basketball, if you don't get a scholarship which is our end goal for each person, will you be able to contribute to society and your local community in a positive manner, or is it just basketball.”
So not just anyone gets in. You have to pass the Dwayne Washington screening first. And Cyril and his family passed with flying colors. In fact Cyril’s mother Irina played for the Russian junior national team, providing a strong support system for Martynov in his pursuit of the next level, which impressed Washington.
“What stood out to me was their commitment to getting to their final goal. So I knew they didn't have anyone tell them ‘you’re the man, don’t listen to that’. It was just the family making a decision, and they knew where they wanted to go. So for me, my job with him was easy. It was just supporting him. They really are confident in their ability, and their goal is to play professionally, whether in Europe or the NBA, so they always do whatever it’s going to take, and they came exactly with the mentality of making a better life,” Washington said.
Good kid, good family, these are important things no doubt… but the question still remains: what’s he bringing to the court? Martynov averaged nearly 15 points and ten rebounds in his time with Uplay Canada, which ultimately is what attracted the Yellow Jackets.
“I think they probably saw him, saw a guy who's really skilled and a big, and maybe not someone that everyone’s going after, which is kind of their sweet spot, and were able to convince him to come,” Ken Sugiura said.
Unfortunately for the skilled big, he hasn’t had much of a chance to prove it this season. Martynov has only logged minutes in four games for Georgia Tech. But head coach Josh Pastner isn’t really looking for his freshman to contribute right now anyway. So be patient, but keep an eye out for Cyril, because he’s coming. Maybe in just a year or two.
“As far as the timeline for him it’s hard to say I think he probably needs to develop physically a little bit more,” Sugiura said, “as you said he hasn’t played a ton, I think there’s guys ahead of him that’re just more ready. But physical development and getting used to the college game and all that, and I’m sure they see big things in time for him, whether it’s next year or two years from now.”