Life away from home can be tough on any college student.
Can you imagine if that distance stretched over 8,000 miles?
Welcome to the lives of Grand Canyon University basketball players Matt Jackson and Gerard Martin. Jackson, a sophomore forward, is from Melbourne while redshirt freshman shooting guard Martin hails from Manly, Australia up the coast.
Both have become starters and key contributors to the Lopes’ 17-win start, equaling the best in school history since moving up to the Division-I level.
“They’re team-before-themselves kind of guys, very smart,” head coach Dan Majerle told Sports360AZ.com after a recent practice. “Both guys have gotten better. They really like to work.”
Each player has enjoyed adapting to life in the United States while developing their games under the guidance of the well-recognized Majerle and his GCU coaching staff.
“[He’s] great,” the versatile 6’8″ Jackson explained to Sports360AZ.com of his third-year coach. “I love his energy, his excitement. He’s a really intense guy but he’s really helped me.”
While Jackson was able to compete last year as a true freshman Martin watched from the bench after sustaining a season-ending knee injury shortly after signing with the Lopes.
“He’s the kind of guy you can just throw on the floor,” Majerle said of Martin who has started all 19 games this season. “He can guard any position out there. Good passer. Very smart…I’m very pleased with the way he plays.”
Both have found their niche on the court, as well off of it. Each enjoy the small-campus, student-friendly environment the central Phoenix school offers, as well as the mild temperatures and picturesque surroundings of the Valley. They plan on returning to their homeland in May for a month when the players are off.
For now, it’s time to focus on a WAC regular season championship.