‘The best leader and best teammate’: Caitlin Clark praises her metro-east roommate

The journey has been a long one for former Edwardsville girls basketball standout Kate Martin, from redshirt freshman to becoming “the glue” at an NCAA program bound for the Final Four.

On Friday night the Iowa Hawkeyes, who are led by Martin and her superstar roommate Caitlin Clark, take on Connecticut with advancement to the National Championship game in Cleveland at stake.

Iowa basketball player, Edwardsville native Kate Martin receives Big 10  Sportsmanship Award | FOX 2

Martin , a 2018 Edwardsville High School graduate, and the Hawkeyes, who had their dreams dashed by LSU last year in the national championship game, eliminated the Tigers on Monday in the Elite Eight to get back to the Final Four.

For Martin’s parents, Matt and Jill Martin, seeing their daughter go to back-to-back Final Four has been an amazing experience.

“It’s been a whirlwind for sure and we’re trying to make the most of it,” said Matt Martin, the former football coach at Edwardsville. “We’re guaranteed one more game and, at best, two more and it’s over. We’ve been taking kids from volleyball basketball, football games since thy were knee-high and now this is it.

“It’s crazy how time flies.”

Kate Martin, a 6-foot forward and the Belleville News-Democrat’s Player of the Year in 2018, has been superb on the court for Iowa this season averaging 13.1 points and 6. 8 rebounds per game. She was named to the All Big Ten Conference Second Team.

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Kate Martin (20) controls the ball against LSU Lady Tigers forward Angel Reese (10) in the second quarter in the finals of the Albany Regional in the 2024 NCAA Tournament at MVP Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports Gregory Fisher USA TODAY NETWORK

“I think part of it is her role changed as she’s a four playing a lot four (power forward), versus two (shooting guard) and three (small forward) in previous years,” here dad said. “So I think she gets an opportunity to rebound more. When you’re a four you get an opportunity to rebound more. She’s always tried to do what the team needs.”

Martin became the 43rd Hawkeye to score 1,000 career points, the 32nd Iowa women’s basketball player to grab 500 rebounds, and the 10th player in Iowa women’s basketball history to log 400 career assists.

The most satisfying part of watching Martin’s career for her parents has been watching her grow as a person in all facets on and off the court.

“I just like the person that she’s become,” Matt said. “She’s not really changed. She’s still Kate. She’s still working hard. She’s adulting and she’s she’s achieving her goals and accomplishing her dreams and it’s fun to see all that hard work pay off.”

Kate Martin gets WNBA Draft surprise while supporting Caitlin Clark

Over the past two seasons, Martin has emerged as a leader on the Hawkeyes, along with Clark, who set the NCAA Division I record for scoring and rooms with Martin on the road.

The two strong-willed players have forged an even stronger bond on and off the court. Matt believes that the two bring out the best in each other. In a Big Ten Network team profile, Clarke called Martin as the “the best leader and best teammate I’ve had in my entire life.”

“From what I see is I think there’s mutual respect and admiration because Caitlin’s strengths might not be Kate’s strengths and Kate’s strengths might not be Caitlin’s strengths and I think they see that,” Matt said. “They’re wise enough to see that they’re much better as a unit when they work together. They butt heads sometimes but that’s because they’re competitive and I have a twin brother, so I know what it’s like to butt heads with somebody and still love them.”

Jill said that Kate is definitely looking to stay in basketball after she is finished with graduate school at Iowa.

“If the WNBA wants her for a team, she would love to try out and love to be a part of that,” Jill said. “If not, she’s talked about possibly playing overseas or finding a coaching job somewhere at the college level.

“I don’t worry about that girl. I know she’s gonna do something so it will be related to basketball for sure.”

Before that happens, Matt and Jill will get to see Kate play at least one more game on Friday as an Iowa Hawkeye. They feel that the Hawkeyes will be ready to go in the semifinals against UConn.

“I think I like our chances and I think we’re good enough to best any team in the tournament,” Matt said. “It’s a gauntlet and you can’t have an off night and you gotta come ready to go and you gotta perform well.”

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