Former FAU standout Alijah Martin signs with Florida over Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan and others

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Atlantic standout Alijah Martin, who helped propel the Owls to the Final Four in 2023, is moving about 300 miles north to play at Florida.

The 6-foot-2 guard formally signed with the Gators on Monday and is expected to become an immediate starter for coach Todd Golden in Gainesville. He will replace Zyon Pullin, a first team, all-Southeastern Conference point guard who averaged 15.5 points, 4.9 assists and 3.9 rebounds after transferring from UC Riverside.

Martin, a graduate transfer, has one year of eligibility remaining. He chose Florida over Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi and USC.

“He’s been incredibly consistent as both a scorer and defender and will add even more explosiveness to our group,” Golden said. "He will step onto our campus as a college graduate and will provide experience and leadership for the program.”

Martin was an all-conference selection in each of the past three seasons, the first two in Conference USA and then this past season in the American Athletic Conference. He averaged 13.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals during FAU’s 2023-24 campaign, which ended with a first-round loss to Northwestern in the NCAA Tournament.

FAU coach Dusty May left for Michigan a few days later, and the Owls’ roster started to crumble. The Gators could end up being one of the beneficiaries.

Martin has made 37% of his shots from 3-point range and should dramatically improve Florida’s perimeter defense. Although starting guards Walter Clayton Jr. and Will Richard are going through the NBA draft process, both are expected to return to campus for another season.

Clayton, Richard, Martin and Denzel Aberdeen would give Golden a formidable backcourt to feature in his fast-paced offense. The Gators also have four-star shooting guard Isaiah Brown signed for next season.

Florida has big men Alex Condon, Thomas Haugh and Micah Handlogten returning, although Handlogten could miss the entire season after gruesomely breaking his left leg in the SEC Tournament.

Golden added Washington State center Rueben Chinyelu and Chattanooga forward Sam Alexis from the transfer portal last week. They will help fill holes in the post left by Tyrese Samuel’s graduation and Handlogten’s injury.

Chinyelu averaged 4.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks a game as a freshman last season with the Cougars. Alexis averaged 10.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks blocked shots a game as a sophomore at Chattanooga.

The Gators have two scholarships remaining after losing Pullin and Samuel to graduation, guard Riley Kugel to Kansas via the portal and the departures of EJ Jarvis, Aleks Szymczyk and Julian Rishwain.

Florida also has 7-foot-7, 300-pound Olivier Rioux headed to campus as a preferred walk-on. The Canadian is the world’s tallest teenager, according to Guinness World Records. He moved from Montreal to Florida to play at IMG Academy in 2021.


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