By Austin Chappell
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Oklahoma State's 2012 recruiting class between its men's and women's basketball teams was one of the best in its history.
The No. 2 recruit in the nation, Marcus Smart, joined the Cowboys after winning two state championships and being named a McDonald's All-American. Smart has the Cowboys tied for second atop the Big 12 standings and has been a driving force behind a dangerous team.
However, Smart isn't the only freshman on campus who has made an immediate impact.
Brittney Martin, a 6'0'' guard out of Syracuse, Utah, has started every game for the upstart Cowgirls this season. Her immediate presence at the beginning of the season helped the team to an 11-0 start, its best in school history.
Smart's journey from big-time powerhouse Flower Mound, Texas is a story in it's own. But Martin's transition from the Syracuse High School gymnasium to Gallagher-Iba Arena might just be the overall key to her success.
Growing up in a relatively small town immediately put Martin in a low-profile situation when it came to recruiting. Still, a strong relationship with family, friends and her AAU coach put her on the board as the 19th-overall prospect in the nation after leading the Syracuse Titans to two state championships.
"Coach Ray taught me so much that I've carried throughout my basketball career," Martin said. "That, combined with my relationship with my parents and my grandparents, was probably my biggest motivation during the transition to OSU."
When Martin got to Stillwater, she came in as one of the highest-recruited players in Cowgirl basketball history. With high recruiting comes great amounts of hype, but Martin stuck to her roots. The mindset of a small town basketball star, combined with a humbling personality, got Martin off to the right start when she first stepped foot on the OSU campus.
"I didn't know for sure that I would be playing as a freshman, but it's what I had hoped for," Martin said. "Everybody said transitioning from high school to college would be a huge change, but I always thought that it couldn't be that different as long as I kept the right attitude."
Martin seemed to be right, as she poured in 15 points in the Cowgirls' season debut against Cal Poly. A few nights later, she reached doubles figures again in a win against Weber State. The hype of a high-profile high school star that came out to a hot start at a D-1 college could have gotten to the freshman's head.
Martin also had her struggles, though. In the Cowgirls' undefeated non-conference run, Martin went 2-12 against Missouri State. She shot 0-4 in only 14 minutes against Stephen F. Austin. She had her typical struggles that any freshman athlete has.
However, Martin dug deep, remembered how she got to where she was and kept her cool. She remembered that her down-to-earth, small town perspective wouldn't have been complete without one thing: her confidence.
On December 22, Martin did something that no Cowgirl had ever done in the history of the program. She put in 10 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and finished off a triple-double in the last minute of the game with her tenth assist.
"I don't really think about that stuff when I'm on the court, so when they put me back in with a minute left, I didn't know what was going on," Martin said. "They didn't tell me until after the game. It was crazy."
Although Martin hasn't been perfect since that night, her stellar play has helped the Cowgirls get off to one of the best starts in team history.
She ranks second in the Big 12 with three steals per game, recorded the first triple-double in team history and has won the Big 12 Freshman of the Week honor four times so far this season.
Head Coach Jim Littell said Martin has been one of the most vital parts of the Cowgirls' success this season.
"She's a very special player," Littell said. "She can go out there and give us double figures, or she can play her role and get critical rebounds. She keeps a calm mindset and has a great perspective on the game."
That perspective that Littell sees in his freshman phenom could be the start of an extremely successful career for Martin. The ability to stay confident in rough situations and the outlook of keeping a level head has the small town star destined for success.
The Syracuse, Utah native has nearly matched the play of Smart's in numerous categories, but Martin's memories from her low-key past has helped keep her mentality at bay.
"I think he is more of a complete player than I am, so I can't say that I am the Marcus Smart of the women's team," Martin said. "I still have a lot to work on and still have plenty of things to accomplish."