Jillian Martin was born to play high school basketball in Connecticut.
The Amity senior is the daughter of former Windham High and Southern Connecticut State University standout Robin (Savageau) Martin.
Graduating from Windham in 1982, her mother was known as one of the best shooters in the state during her high school years.
A starter since she walked in the door freshmen year, now it is Jillian Martin considered one of the top players in the state, carrying on the family tradition of excellence.
“My mom has been my coach since second grade and in travel,” Martin said. “It’s really nice because I always get to learn from her and she gets to tell me the dos and don’ts of the game. Everything I learned about the game I learned from her and my dad. He was a baseball player but they just taught me how to be an athlete.”
Growing up Martin played basketball, soccer and lacrosse but always had the most passion and skill for basketball.
“I loved basketball since the first day I ever played it,” Martin said. “The game just made sense to me and there is really nothing I like doing more than playing basketball. Basketball kind of consumes my life, right now.”
Martin is having a stellar senior season, averaging 17.7 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals a game while shooting 75% from the foul line.
A season after being named First-Team All-SCC, she is making a case for All-State this season.
“There is a lot of good competition in the SCC,” Martin said. “Playing in the SCC for four years has definitely made me a better player. Every night the team we are playing has good players.”
Though Martin started since freshmen season, she feels she took a big leap between her junior and senior years.
She credits her last summer spent playing AAU with Bria Holmes Elite with helping her take her game to the next level.
“During the season, everyone works hard. That’s not what makes a player. It’s what you do in the offseason. She has improved every offseason. That is a testament to how hard she works,” Amity coach Michelle Shoop said. “She is a triple threat on offense. She has worked so hard on her shot which she can hit a 3 and even extend it deeper. She has a pull-up and she can explode to the basket. Most importantly, she can see the floor. She is so dynamic on offense and every team has to game plan for her. It’s tough to stop her.”
Along with her skills, Martin is a vocal leader on and off the court, saying her loud personality does not change much between games and the rest of her life.
Shoop, who graduated from Masuk in 2004 and also played basketball for SCSU, has been the coach at Amity for 10 years and has know Martin most of that time.
“We have clinics here for youth players and even when she was little, you knew she was special,” Shoop said. “When she was in fourth grade, she would be playing with the sixth, seventh and eighth graders. We could just tell that her basketball IQ was so high, even at a young age.”
Over the last four years, the bond between player and coach has formed to concrete.
“After four years of her being our point guard, we have a really great relationship and communication between us. I know what she’s thinking and what she’s frustrated about,” Shoop said. “I am going to really miss her next year.”
Martin is not sure where she will be next year but would like to continue her basketball career at the next level.
She may even continue following in her mother’s footsteps at SCSU, one of the schools she is considering.
Whether she chooses SCSU or not, she has done enough at the high school level to keep the family legacy alive.