EDINBURG — Edinburg High senior Leslie Martinez announced her plans to play collegiate basketball at Coastal Bend College in Beeville via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, joining a growing list of Bobcats basketball stars to take their talents to the next level.
“I’m very excited to continue my basketball career,” Martinez said. “I’m one of the very fortunate people who get to continue playing basketball after high school and I feel very blessed that I’m able to.”
Martinez was recruited by several schools of varying sizes from across Texas, but her choice to join the Cougars’ program was ultimately an easy one to make.
Coastal Bend’s biggest selling point? A reunion with her older sister, Brianna, another former prominent Edinburg High basketball standout who graduated in 2019.
“A big reason why I did look towards Coastal Bend was because it was my dream to continue playing basketball with my sister, and personally after high school was over I thought we were going our separate ways. She was going to play college, and then I was going to play college, but when I realized I had an opportunity to play with her, I couldn’t miss out on it,” Martinez said. “Knowing that I got to play four years with my sisters was absolutely sensational, and then the minute I thought it was over and I was never going to be able to play with (Brianna) again, I get an offer.”
“The opportunity to play collegiately on the same team as her sister, it’s almost like a dream come true. They started so young playing together and then they moved over to Edinburg High,” said Edinburg High head coach John David Salinas, who has coached all three Martinez sisters. “Coach Nadler at Coastal Bend was interested and also excited about having them together playing. They obviously have a chemistry together being on the court at the same time and hopefully it works out and things go well for both of them.”
Leslie and Brianna Martinez played three years of varsity basketball together at Edinburg High, while younger sister Larissa made her varsity debut for the Bobcats this past season.
Martinez remembers how competitive the trio was growing up together and how it motivated her to become such a talented defender capable of guarding a multitude of positions.
“It was very exciting and never boring. When we were little, I remember me and my older sister would play one-on-one against each other, and she would always be ahead of me,” she said. “The score would be like 6-2 and then I remember getting so mad that I was losing, so then I would just come out of nowhere and beat her every time we played. She would get so mad until the time she finally beat me.
“We always want to outdo each other when it comes to basketball or anything else. It’s very competitive when it comes to us three, but we like the competition.”
Martinez shined for the Bobcats in her senior season as one of the most versatile players throughout the Rio Grande Valley, averaging 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 40% from the field, 83% from the foul line and tying for second on the team in 3-pointers made (52).
After typically playing shooting guard or small forward before this most recent season, she started the year as Edinburg High’s starting power forward and was a large reason why the Bobcats were able to lead the state in 3-pointers made and were one of the most efficient shooting teams from behind the arc.
Multiple injuries led the Bobcats to reshuffle their lineup, Martinez took over the starting point guard duties and exceeded expectations after the position change.
Her versatility allowed her to play a backcourt distributor’s role offensively while also being able to play lockdown interior defense as a post on the defensive end of the floor.
“I think that’s what makes Leslie extremely marketable in regards to the schools trying to recruit her. It’s her ability to put the ball on the floor, be very unselfish and at the same time being able to hit an outside shot,” Salinas said. “Her strength is definitely her ability to play multiple positions on the court.”
Martinez helped lead Edinburg High to a 36-4 record, the school’s best during Salinas’ tenure, and a trip to the regional quarterfinals as well as a second consecutive co-district championship.
With her commitment to Coastal Bend College, Martinez becomes the fifth Bobcat player in the past three years to graduate to the college ranks.