One of the most successful high school coaches in Georgia history is calling it a career.
Eddie Martin, who spent his entire head coaching career in Gwinnett County, announced his retirement this week after earlier informing the Buford administration that he planned to step down as the Wolves’ head boys basketball coach. He went 139-36 with two state titles in six seasons at Buford.
Martin, a member of the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame, has a career record of 852-263 and has won nine state championships in his long head coaching career, which began in 1981 at Brookwood. The 65-year-old is in his 42nd year in education and just completed his 39th season as a head coach with another state playoff team. His teams won 16 region titles and made 26 state tournament appearances.
“I’m retiring, 39 seasons as a head coach and 42 years in this business, I think I’ve put my time in,” Martin said. “When you’re a coach, you know when it’s time. I am leaving the door open (to a possible return to coaching in some fashion) because you never know. But if this is it, I’m good with it.”
In addition to his two state titles at Buford (most recently in 2019), he won four at Greater Atlanta Christian and three at Norcross, though he logged 350 victories — the largest chunk of his coaching victories at one place — at Brookwood, where he coached for 20 seasons. Brookwood’s basketball teams now play on Eddie Martin Court.
After a brief break from coaching after stepping down at Brookwood, Martin led Norcross to a 170-18 record and three straight state championships. It was the first run of three boys basketball state championships in a row in Georgia’s largest classification since 1938-40.
After Norcross, Martin went 193-29 with four state championships as head coach at GAC, where he coached current NBA standout Malcolm Brogdon, one of five future NBA players he coached as high-schoolers.
“I wouldn’t change anything that I’ve been able to do,” Martin said. “I’ve been at four very, very good schools. We‘ve had success at all four of them. Obviously, not quite the success at Brookwood as we had at the other three, but I still felt we were very successful. I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done. I’ve gotten to work with a lot of great kids. I got to see a lot of kids play at the next level and several play in the NBA. I’ve been able to work with some really, really good assistant coaches that I’ve got to know really, really well. … I’ve been blessed. I really have.”
Martin also played his high school basketball in Gwinnett, where he was a high-scoring guard at Central Gwinnett before playing small college basketball at Alabama Christian and Freed-Hardeman. He averaged 27 points as a Central senior during the 1973-74 season and his 732 points that season was a county record that wasn’t broken until Berkmar’s Tony Akins toppled it in 1997-98. He had a 48-point game, made 20 field goals in a game and made 20 free throws in a game, but regretted that his Central teams never made the state tournament.
After college, he got his start in coaching as an assistant at GAC, spent a year working in private business and coached a season at Lawrenceville Middle. He then became the first boys basketball coach at Brookwood, where he spent two decades, worked alongside his wife Malinda and coached both of his sons, Clint and Brent. Brent has been his longtime assistant, including during his time at Buford, where he has worked since the 2015-16 season.
Martin now looks ahead to retirement, which he said will include more golf and more time with his four grandchildren.
“Try to enjoy life a little bit more,” Martin said of his retirement plans. “I have to be honest. It’s a little scary. I’d be lying if I said anything else. It’s a little scary not knowing there’s a routine I have to follow day in and day out. Here’s the thing. I’ve got faith that God is going to do what he’s going to do with me.”