SPORTS SPOTLIGHT | Point guard Xavier Martinez on his first season at UCCS

In the short time that freshman point guard Xavier Martinez has been a Mountain Lion, he has played a significant role in the team’s success, averaging 14.6 points per game through 20 contests.

Martinez graduated from SPIRE Academy in Geneva, Ohio before moving to Colorado Springs to begin his college career as a Mountain Lion. He said that he had a lot of pressure placed on him during the recruitment process.

“Coach Culver made it known that they had big expectations for me coming in as a freshman,” he said. Martinez embraced these high expectations and took his recruitment as an opportunity for growth.

“I came in knowing that different programs and staffs have their own way of play style and coaching. So, when I got here, I was ready to learn and perfect my role to help the team be successful,” he said.

Martinez speaks admirably of his teammates and thinks the culture the program is promoting this season has helped them perform better.

“I have loved the team culture and dynamic. All of us get along on and off the court, which allows us to have better chemistry during games,” he said.

The connection between each Mountain Lion can be seen through their ten victories on the court this season. Martinez attributes the team’s success to the more concrete goals they have set and their head coach Jeff Culver.

“Our main goal has been to make the conference tournament … we are currently sitting right on the edge, but we feel good about the remaining half of our season,” he said.

Injuries and illness have greatly affected the Mountain Lions so far this season, but Martinez is confident in their collective plan. While the freshman point guard acknowledges that the team comes first, he has also been concentrating on some individual goals.

“A goal that my previous coach instilled in me was to have a 2.0 assist to turnover ratio. As of right now, I am sitting at a 1.8 and feel confident that I will be able to reach my goal by the end of the season,” he said.

Martinez has also set goals off the court and understands the importance of academics.

“This year, I’ve mostly concentrated on creating good habits to be a better student in the classroom … since getting here in the fall, I have definitely gained habits in my everyday life that will allow me to be successful in my future career,” he said.

Martinez acknowledged the difficulties that come with balancing basketball and academics, but he thinks that staying caught up in his classes has allowed him to focus more on basketball.

“Balancing academics and athletics is definitely one of the harder things about being a student athlete. I’ve learned that it’s better to ask for help earlier rather than waiting until the last second,” he said.

The extra work seems to be paying off for the young Mountain Lion and has helped him enjoy some great moments this season. He said that beating Fort Lewis was one of those moments. He felt like he pulled himself together after a rough start and put his all into the game during the second half.

“I think the highlight of the season so far has been beating #9 Fort Lewis College at home. Coming into the game, a lot of people didn’t believe we had a chance to win … for me, it became a big growing up moment because I had one of the worst first halves in my career,” he said.

Martinez and the 10-10 Mountain Lions will look to increase their chances of making the conference tournament on Feb. 2 when they travel to Las Vegas, New Mexico to take on the Cowboys at New Mexico Highlands.

#2 Xavier Martinez steals the ball against Chadron State on Jan. 26. Photo by Lillian Davis.