What Mizzou's hire of Martin could mean for East St. Louis and region

While anticipation grows for what Martin could do for basketball in Columbia, closer to home, excitement is building for what he could mean for the St. Louis area off the court.

"I can't be more ecstatic for today," said Maurice Scott, Jr. as his voice started to crack.

Scott writes for the St. Louis American and speaks for a lot Cuonzo Martin fans.

"Lot of family and friends, a lot of people in East St. Louis that are just ecstatic that he's coming back home," Scott said.

And not just because Martin was a two-time state champ at Lincoln High. A two-time Big Ten champ at Purdue.
And now the winningest Division 1 basketball coach Mizzou has ever hired.

But because Scott says the cancer survivor and "family man" has priorities even higher than basketball.

"He's a pillar of hope for a lot of our youth," said Scott who covered Martin as a high school athlete and grew to call him a friend.

"When Cuonzo comes home he speaks to the youth. He's very visible when he comes home. And he reaches out and touches our kids when he comes home."

Martin grew up in East St. Louis and Wednesday the University of Missouri hired him as its next head men's basketball coach. The university is expected to introduce him publicly on Monday.

"For him to be a little closer to home is going to be is even better," says Scott of Martin's mentoring on the court, and off regardless of position in life.

"He's a been a mentor to me. Even though I'm older," said Scott. "He's prayed with me. He'll just text me and ask me how I'm doing."

"He's been a little big brother to me honestly," he said.

"It's not just basketball with Cuonzo Martin. He's a leader of young men. And the University of Missouri really got a gem when they hired him today."

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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