Martavious Irving, famously known for his pre-game “Dougie” dance in the tunnel, was a Kansas State men’s basketball guard from 2009 to 2013. Irving appeared in 130 games while averaging 4.1 points and 1.3 assists throughout his career for the Wildcats. Here is the story of his life before, during and after K-State.
While in high school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Irving was a three-star athlete averaging 15.4 points per game and 7.3 rebounds. Then-assistant coach Brad Underwood took a trip to Fort Lauderdale to visit Irving.
“[Underwood] recruited me, he came down and saw a couple of my games in high school, and I think the third one he brought Frank [Martin],” Irving said. “Frank is also from Miami. They were both a little crazy though, they were in your face coaches, they both were very passionate about making their players better and better every day.”
As soon as Irving was on campus, he knew Manhattan was the place for him. He came to K-State with the hope of eventually playing professional basketball. Irving majored in marketing and enjoyed his time on campus.
“As an athlete, it’s fun, you know? Playing on TV almost every day, just being able to put on that jersey and you see how passionate the fans are,” Irving said. “A lot of us on the team are not from Kansas, and for the fans to embrace us into their tradition, it just was an amazing feeling.”
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While playing for the Kansas State men’s basketball team, Irving became close with many of his teammates and created memories that he said will not only be with them forever but also with the fans who got to experience it.
“Freshman year we made it to the Elite 8 and played in that double-overtime game against Xavier,” Irving said, “which is considered to be one of the best basketball games in college history. My sophomore year, we beat KU at home, all of the fans rushing the floor — I’ve never been a part of anything like that, actually kind of crazy I was in the middle of all of that. I couldn’t breathe, but it was still a lot of fun. Lastly, winning the Big 12 my senior year, it was really special being able to do that since the last time it happened was 1978, I think.”
The bond Irving created during that historic run still lasts to this day.
“I don’t know if you know, but I played for Bruce [Weber] my senior year — I still keep in touch with that coaching staff: Shane Southwell is one of my best friends in life,” Irving said. “We have a group chat, and in that group chat is Curtis Kelly, Jacob Pullen, Jamar Samuels, Thomas Gipson, Jordan Henriquez-Roberts, Rodney McGruder and even some of the track guys we were really close with like Eric Kynard and Jeffrey Julmis. We have this big group chat that we speak in every day or every other day.”
After his senior year, Irving came back to K-State and served as a graduate assistant under coach Bruce Weber. He then went on to fulfill his dream of playing professional basketball.
“After we lost to La Salle in the tournament my senior year, I had surgery on my knees,” Irving said. “Coach [Chris] Lowery and Coach Weber called me every day, and I went back home to Fort Lauderdale to rehab in the summer, and they called and said that if I need to come back, to just come back and be a graduate assistant. So I was like, trying to get my body ready to go play pro, and my body wasn’t ready, so I decided to go back. I went back for a semester and after that, I went to Slovakia on my contract.”
While it took no time for Irving to fully embrace Manhattan, Slovakia was unlike anything Irving was used to.
“It was kind of a culture shock moving out there,” Irving said. “It’s cold and very little English — if any at all. My assistant coach spoke English very well, so he kind of served as my translator. You get very good at shops and restaurants at just kind of pointing at what you want.”
Irving spent six years in Slovakia playing basketball and is now a realtor in Wichita, Kansas.
“I was overseas playing for SPU Nitra in Slovakia when COVID hit and canceled our season, so I had to make some life choices on whether I wanted to go back or not with everything on in our world,” Irving said. “Medically they do things a little different over there, and I was a little scared that I would get sick over there. I decided that I wanted to come home and play locally. I play in the TBT (The Basketball Tournament) every year. Starting last September, I am actually a realtor in Wichita now.”
As for the current state of the K-State men’s basketball team, Irving understands fans’ frustrations but urges them to look at the bigger picture.
“Despite what may be going on right now, the coaches work around the clock to help these players progress both as men and as basketball players,” Irving said. “They get a lot of heat from fans, and I understand that some years they are good and some years they are not. But fans always want more, and I understand the frustration, but these coaches work tirelessly to make the K-State family happy.”