Brayden Martin went to Uncle Walt’s house any weekend he could growing up. His cousins gravitated toward the full-length basketball court in the backyard, where they clanked shots off the glass backboards.

His uncle — Maryland men’s basketball great Walt Williams — joined in and taught them his patented hesitation crossover. It was the same move the former star showcased as a Terp and took with him to his 11-year NBA career. Williams’ jerseys and photos from his playing career littered his basement walls for a young Martin to admire.

But basketball was never Martin’s favorite sport. And the University of Maryland wasn’t originally his preferred college.

The freshman committed to Maryland in April 2023 after being committed to Florida State the previous two years. The move kept the Bowie native close to family and helped him continue his uncle’s legacy as a Terp.

“It definitely feels surreal sometimes,” Martin said. “I’m actually playing baseball at the University of Maryland.”

His uncle pushed him to come to Maryland even after he committed to FSU as a high school sophomore. Martin said whenever he was at his uncle’s house, Williams joked that he should reach out to Maryland one last time.

Williams said he kept his fingers crossed when the Seminoles fired their coach during Martin’s junior year at St. John’s College High School. The new staff didn’t watch the high school infielder play a single game, his father said. Martin felt it wasn’t a good fit and decommitted his senior year.

[Brayden Martin’s walk-off pushes Maryland baseball to 5-4 win over Michigan State]

Williams, affectionately known as “The Wizard,” stayed home when he played for the Terps in 1988-1992 after growing up in Temple Hills, Maryland. He told his nephew how enjoyable it was starring in front of his family in Cole Field House.

The University of Maryland was always home for Martin. The outfielder attended numerous basketball games as a child, where Williams broadcasted them for Maryland Sports Radio Network alongside Johnny Holliday. He also went to football and baseball games with his family.

It took one phone call with coach Matt Swope for Martin to come to Maryland. Swope highlighted his work improving hitters and his shared familiarity with College Park, being a Maryland alum himself.

Martin announced his commitment on X, formerly known as Twitter, and sent the post into a group chat with his uncle and family. Williams immediately FaceTimed his nephew, grinning from ear to ear.

“I always thought in the back of my mind we would figure out a way to get [Brayden] at the University of Maryland,” Williams said. “I was just ecstatic to hear from him and actually find out that he was coming.”

His commitment meant he’d stay close to his family, which Martin said was a factor. His parents and 6-year-old twin brothers, Jett and Dash, attend nearly every home game. The youngest Martin’s climbed Brayden’s legs when he came home last month to visit.

Martin with his father, Kenny, two twin brothers, Jett and Dash, and mother Lesli, after Maryland Baseball’s 7-6 win against Michigan State on March 22, 2024.(Photo Courtesy of Joe Forgette)

[Maryland baseball squeaks past Delaware, 11-10, for second straight win]

Martin said he tries to see them whenever he can. His father, Kenny, called their close-knit bond a “blessing.”

“Super proud of the big brother that he is,” Kenny Martin said. “Brayden is a superhero in the eyes of his brothers.”

They watched as Brayden delivered the game-winning hit against Michigan State on a Friday night in March. His family jumped with excitement as his teammates doused him in Gatorade on the field.

Williams watched the game from his TV at home that night and texted his nephew after the hit. He applauded his late game efforts and told his nephew he’d be coming on Sunday to watch him.

“Be ready to play,” Martin remembered Williams texting him.

Williams watched from the patio along the third base line as Maryland strung a 10th inning rally with two runners on and two outs.

With the game tied, Martin roped a single into right field and sent Kevin Keister home. It was the freshman’s second walk-off in three days. This time, it came with his uncle watching.

The towering Williams jumped up and down after the knock and ran toward the fence to wrap his arms around his nephew.

“It’s just been a blessing,” Williams said. “It’s awesome to see him have so much success, especially in that Maryland Terrapin uniform.”

Williams and Martin hug after his walk-off hit against Michigan State on March 24, 2024.(Photo Courtesy of Joe Forgette)