**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe**
During South Carolina's memorable run to the NCAA Tournament Final Four, the Gamecocks had a big fan in Chuck Martin. The Indiana assistant coach was friends with South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, and loved watching the Gamecocks play.
Chuck Martin will now team up with the other Martin to try and get the Gamecocks back to the pinnacle of college basketball. It was recently announced that Chuck Martin would take over for Matt Figger, who became the head coach at Austin Peay, and the former held his first press conference on Thursday.
Photo gallery (photos by Allen Sharpe)
Chuck Martin said he has been friends with Frank Martin for around 20 years, and the two had a mutual friend that connected them indirectly in regard to the vacant South Carolina position. When Indiana head coach Tom Crean was let go, Chuck Martin was in need of a job.
"I feel really fortunate to be part of Frank's staff and the program he's built here," Chuck Martin said. "It's incredible what they've been able to do over the last few years."
South Carolina advanced to the Final Four last season for the first time in school history, so there's a lot of excitement and buzz around the program. Chuck Martin is entering the fold at the perfect time, and knows how hard it is to have the kind of quick success that Frank Martin has had with the Gamecocks.
Frank Martin knew he was going to have to replace Figger while in New York, and as soon as the season ended he got to work.
'"As soon as I separated from that (Gonzaga) game I started trying to figure things out," Frank Martin said. "Unfortunately, Tom lost his job at Indiana and a lightbulb went off in my head that I thought Chuck would be tremendous. From the first time he and I spoke, he became candidate No. 1 and that never changed."
Chuck Martin helped the Hoosiers to three postseason appearances during his time there, and spent one year with the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder prior to that. He was also a head coach at Marist and was an assistant at Memphis with current Kentucky coach John Calipari when the Tigers advanced to the national championship game.
"He was one of the first guys who reached out and congratulated me," Chuck Martin said of Calipari. "The first thing he said was congratulations and then the second thing, (he) was immediately so complimentary of Frank and the job he's done here."
Chuck Martin has also coached at St. Johns, Drexel, UMass and Manhattan and is a native of Bronx, N.Y. Like his new head coach, Chuck Martin places a lot of his recruiting emphasis on the Northeast.
There's a lot of similarities between the two, but they've never worked together on a staff.
"I wanted someone that's never been in the locker room with me," Frank Martin said. "Doesn't mean I wanted to take on someone I knew nothing about, but if that's where it led me to I would've been okay with that too. I wanted someone to come in and give me some fresh ideas (and) challenge my thought process."
Chuck Martin has only been on campus for less than a week, so there's a lot of specific responsibilities that still need to be hashed out. But the new coach has had a chance to meet with the current players, and he's come away impressed.
"Coming here to South Carolina with Frank, it's similar to some of the other places I've been at," Chuck Martin said. "Hard working, defensive-minded, gritty, tough kids who feel like they have a chip on their shoulder. For the most part throughout my career, those are the type of kids who I've coached and those are the type of programs I've been around."