Head coach Frank Martin said the past year was one of the most challenging and difficult years in his career during a press conference on Thursday.
Martin said that personal matters made it even more difficult to coach to his full ability. Despite these challenges, he said he’s learned a lot throughout the season and is excited to move forward to next year.
“I was unhappy with a lot of things — the way they just broke this year,” Martin said. “But as I reflected, I also realized how lucky I am that I’ve been a head ball coach for 29 years, and I’ve had one bad year.”
Martin's contract extension was announced last week, and various former players, such as Sindarius Thornwell, Maik Kotsar, Chris Silva, Justin McKie, PJ Dozier and Duane Notice, congratulated Martin on the extension.
“That’s why I get out of bed every day and I’m excited about my job,” Martin said in response to the video messages.
Martin said his biggest reason for coming to and staying at the university has always been Athletic Director Ray Tanner.
"I love the fact that I work for a boss who tells me the truth," Martin said. "He's never lied to me."
Martin said he's satisfied with the contract negotiations that were made. He specified that he never considered leaving USC during the off-season and that his performance this past season is motivating him to do better this upcoming year.
Martin took responsibility for both the good and bad outcomes of the past season. He said the team is working towards fixing what went wrong this year.
Martin said he "made a mistake" by not offering recent transfers and guards Chico Carter Jr. and James Reese V scholarships.
Martin also praised guard Erik Stevenson and forward AJ Wilson, who announced their decision to transfer into the program recently from Wichita State and George Mason University, respectively. He pointed out the athleticism and aggressiveness in all four players offensively, calling them “ballhawks.”
Martin talked about players that are returning next year, including junior Alanzo Frink, sophomore Wildens Leveque, redshirt sophomore Jermaine Couisnard, junior Keyshawn Bryant and freshman Tre-Vaughn Minott.
"When you start adding those parts, along with the transfers, you've heard me say in the past, it takes time to build your team," Martin said.
He also said the three freshmen players that recently signed are some of his best recruiters of the transfer portal, saying they've contacted players and asked them to come here.
"That's why I'm so excited because I know what's in place, and the new guys, and I think the marriage and the personalities will work," Martin said. "Is it guaranteed? No, but that's the excitement."