Jan. 22nd 2020 - Freshman Forward Esmery Martinez puts up against a contested layup against Oklahoma State at the Coliseum

Jan. 22nd 2020 - Freshman Forward Esmery Martinez puts up against a contested layup against Oklahoma State at the Coliseum

Throughout the 2019-20 season, the star players for the West Virginia women’s basketball team have been senior guard Tynice Martin and redshirt junior guard Kysre Gondrezick. However, there is one player that has contributed significantly off the bench: freshman Esmery Martinez.

A forward, Martinez came into the season as the No. 49 player in women’s high school basketball by espnW. She has quickly lived up to that rating with her continuous contributions off the bench for the Mountaineers.

WVU head coach Mike Carey believes that, over her collegiate career, Martinez has the potential to grow into a true talent.

“She is a freshman, so she’ll make a lot of mistakes,” Carey said. “She needs to get stronger and get skill development, and then she will be a great player.”

As a senior, Martinez finished her career at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Tennessee averaging 18 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks per game. During her senior year, she helped lead the team to a runner-up finish in the Geico High School Nationals Tournament.

This season, Martinez has appeared in all 22 games and is averaging 17 minutes per game. Martinez is only sixth on the team in points per game with an average of five, but she is close to sophomore forward Kari Niblack for the team-lead in rebounds with 6.5 per game.

In her first appearance as a Mountaineer, Martinez nearly earned a double-double after scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds in the season-opener against St. Francis on Nov. 7. Martinez has scored at least eight points and grabbed eight rebounds in the same game five times.

Martinez’s first season in Morgantown can be compared to that of Niblack. As a freshman last season, Niblack averaged 10 points and seven rebounds a game while only starting five games during the season. She was even honored with the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year award following the 2018-19 season.

Over the past eight games, West Virginia has lost seven. In those eight games, Martinez has only been below five rebounds twice. She even posted a career-high in rebounds with 15 against then-No. 2 Baylor.

In the most recent game for West Virginia on Tuesday, Martinez scored six points while grabbing two rebounds in only 14 minutes of action against Kansas State. Martinez also committed three fouls and committed two turnovers.

West Virginia will be back in action on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum to host the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Tip off is scheduled for 5 p.m.