The national spotlight is shining brightly on South Carolina basketball these days, especially coach Frank Martin.
Here’s 10 things to know about Martin.
1. He’s a first-generation Cuban-American
Martin’s parents fled Cuba, landing in Miami. He was the first American-born member of his family when he was born in 1966.
2. Just Frank
For as long as Martin has coached, his players have called him Frank. It speaks to the relationship he holds with his players at the collegiate level, but started with the relationships he had in his neighborhood in Miami when he began coaching.
3. Before the coach
Martin worked several jobs before he became a basketball coach full time, including working as a bouncer at a club.
4. Program builder
Martin’s success at South Carolina has been impressive, taking the Gamecocks back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years. But he did the same at Kansas State. The Wildcats hadn’t been in the tournament since 1996 when he led them to the postseason in 2008.
5. Right place, right guy
Martin followed Bob Huggins from Cincinnati to Kansas State as an assistant in 2006. When Huggins departed a year later, Martin was the guy at K-State and he started out with his first head coaching gig at the college level.
6. Lucky number seven?
Martin is happily married to Anya Martin these days, but it took some effort to get there. Martin was denied seven times when he asked his now-wife on dates.
7. Sinatra fan
When Martin cut down the net at Madison Square Garden after South Carolina beat Florida, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” played. But that’s not Martin’s usual choice of Sinatra tune. The Gamecocks coach often listens to Sinatra’s “My Way” on game day.
8. Fiery personality
Martin has quite the sideline demeanor and it is well-documented. But that passion, fire and relentless intensity is just who he is and his players understand it.
9. The issues
Martin has no problem sounding off on political and social issues, especially when they pertain to his past and heritage. Earlier this year, Martin openly discussed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem, as well as the passing if Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
10. The first time
Martin, after coaching basketball for more than 30 years, is in his first Final Four.