This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Gophers basketball summer series: Josh Martin

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: July 18, 2014 - 11:09 AM

When University of Minnesota assistant basketball coach Dan McHale works from his office in the early mornings, it's not unusual for him to discover a grinning visitor in his doorway.

Josh Martin -- the Gophers' effervescent freshman -- will stop by, breakfast in hand, to say hello and check in on his coaches.

"He's the type of kid that you can't kick out of your office," McHale said. "Every day I wake up and see him, he puts a smile on my face because he's always in a good mood, he's always energetic."

The incoming forward's big personality has driven early coverage of him -- and understandably so. Martin began to show his colors when reporters spoke with him after he committed. Then, he promised dunks and winks at the camera and splashy quotes. He's dutifully kept up with the team since that verbal, and tweets about the Gophers and Minnesota -- and just about everything else -- constantly. 

But Martin has brought that energy to the gym as well. 

The extremely athletic 6-foot-8 forward runs the floor like a guard but the Gophers believe he will be able to play a Joey King-like stretch four position and could contribute major minutes this fall. Already, he's packed on about nine pounds in the weight room, McHale said, on a frame with just three percent body fat.

"He's Shaun Brown's dream," McHale said, referencing the team's strength and conditioning coach. "A ready-made college body ... He's got such a great upside because he's as athletic as can be. He does stuff that we did't have [last year]. He's strong, he's physical, but he can rebound out of his area.

"He just needs to be a sponge and fine-tune everything. And that's what he's doing. He's the most coachable kid I've been around in a long time."

Martin and rising junior Joey King are roommates and -- possessing very similar skill sets -- have worked out together. The two bonded when Martin visited Minnesota last fall and have become close since the Seattle native arrived back on campus. McHale sometimes will find the two of them in the gym along at midnight, shooting and rebounding for each other.

Throughout the summer, the Gophers, who knew Martin would be able to help out defensively and on the boards right away, have been pleasantly surprised by his how strong his face-up game has proven to be. The freshman still needs to work on his low post moves, but the belief is that he has the potential to give his buddy King -- the favorite for starting power forward next season -- a run for his money.

"That's what I told Josh," McHale said. "You guys can be the best of friends off the court, but you're doing him a disservice if you don't push him every day on the court. Competition breeds success."

Even if its achieved with a heavy side of goofy jokes from Martin.

And as for those early morning check ins?

"He always wants to know how you're doing," McHale said with a chuckle. "I tell him 'Don't worry about me, just take care of you."

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