PITTSBURGH — Four years ago, Frank Martin walked into the living room of Kansas State’s Jordan Henriquez on a recruiting visit and started speaking to him in Spanish. The problem was Henriquez, who is of Panamanian descent, didn’t understand a word the Kansas State head coach was saying.
“When I first met him, it was in New York,” Henriquez said. “I sat down with him and he started speaking to me in Spanish. I couldn’t respond back to him.
“He’s like, ‘oh you’re Spanish?’ I’m like ‘yeah, but I don’t speak it.’”
Martin said it was kind of an embarrassing situation for him at the time.
“I started rambling off in Spanish because that is my natural language,” he said. “I could tell the way he was looking at me that something wasn’t right. When I finished that great three, four sentences, he looked at me and said ‘Coach, I don’t speak Spanish.’ You can imagine how big I felt.”
None of that deterred Henriquez from coming to play for Martin, whose ability to speak Spanish has helped create a comfort for players like Luis Colon, Denis Clemente and current Wildcat Angel Rodriguez — all of whom speak the language and they all happened to play their high school basketball in the state of Florida.
“He’s very well-known in Florida because he was a high school coach in Miami and won a couple of state championships,” Rodriguez said of Martin. “People respect him a lot down there.
“But when he goes out to recruit you, he tells you everything — exactly how it is. He tells you when you come your work ethic has got to be the best because we go every day. We don’t get rest. Our practices are extremely hard. Whether you think he’s scaring you or not, he’s just being real because he wants you to prepare the best you can.”
Martin was asked on Friday about his fiery nature and how it might impact the perception recruits have of him, which he said is a question he answers a lot.
“This is what I’ll say: My phone doesn’t stop ringing with people that want me to coach their kids,” Martin said. “So if what I’m doing is wrong, then someone needs to tell those parents and the grandmas that write me letters every day thanking me for holding kids accountable.
“I’ve got my own way of doing things. It was the way I was raised. I’m a little emotional. I’m not scared to show my emotion in the public eye. Some guys are real emotional in private and they have a public personality. With me what you see is what you get.”