RAVENSWOOD - He got a slight taste of varsity basketball experience two seasons ago as a freshman.
Then last season, his playing time increased.

Now as a junior, Jake Martin knows he must not only play at a high level, but he must lead. Martin, you see, is the lone returning Red Devil in the 2012-13 who has played significant minutes.

"It's definitely a lot of weight to carry on my shoulders, but I'm ready to carry it," said Martin.

While he entered the season as the lone experienced player returning, Ravenswood must endure an underdog role this season, which by the way is just fine with Martin.

"We've definitely got something to prove. I think we're going to surprise some people," he said. "We have a unity. We're sticking together. We know we need to fight hard to get this team going."

Martin will be utilized in various ways this season, both on the wing and in the post. He'll be not only counted on to score but to pick up and improve his defensive skills.

"Jake's got a lot of ability and he loves to play," said head coach Mick Price. "This year his role is a little different because he is going to have to lead.

"He's going to have to be one of those guys who puts us on his back from to time because he can score, either from the 3-point line or take it to the hole and get fouled. He's a strong enough kid but has to score more than just standing out on the perimeter."

Martin had a nice confidence game recently by scoring 32 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in Ravenswood's first win of the season over Doddridge.

The past two seasons Martin had the luxury of playing alongside his older brother, Zack, who graduated last spring. "It was great," he said of the experience. "Usually in practice he'd pair up with me. I'd make him better and he would make me better. We did just about anything we could do to motivate each other and push each other."

Martin's father, Kip, played for Mick Price during the seasons of 1982-1985. "I've got some shoes to fill," he said. " I mean it's a lot of pressure, but I'm ready to step up to it."

While he looks forward to junior season Martin laments not having one of his favorite fans, grandfather Roy Martin, in the stands to watch him play. Roy Martin, who died in 2011, was a staunch Red Devil supporter.

"Every single game, I look up and not see him there and it's tough," he said. "I'm just playing for him. I'm playing for my whole family. Just knowing I have to carry on the tradition of wearing the number 20. That's just what they do."

Across the county is another outstanding athlete by the name of Jake Martin. The Ripley High sophomore is a returning state champion on the wrestling mat and was named the Jackson Newspapers Offensive Player of the Year for Viking football.

"I've never really talked to Jake before, but I've heard a lot about him. I've seen him play football a couple of times. I've never gotten to see him wrestle, but he's definitely something to see. He's quite the athlete for sure."