Cal Basketball: Evaluating The Gary Franklin Debacle

There are plenty of whispers as to why Gary Franklin left: playing time issues, overbearing father, thinking he might be a one-and-done issue, bad influences, AAU culture, etc.

Jeff Faraudo of Bear Talk straight out says that Franklin wasn't happy with being pulled away from the point guard position that he played in high school. 

Franklin walked into the basketball office and informed coach Mike Montgomery that he believes he needs to play point guard fulltime in order to reach the NBA and, as a result, he had decided to transfer.

"He has dreams to play in the NBA and doesn’t feel like he’ll be able to do it here," Montgomery told me Wednesday afternoon, just before the team boarded its flight for Thursday night’s game at Arizona.

"He wasn’t upset about anything," Montgomery said. "He feels like he needs to be a point (guard) at the next level. (Transferring is) something he felt he needed to do."

Read between the lines, and you get the sense Franklin thought he was capable of being an NBA Draft prospect ... well, NOW.

Gary? Are you reading this?

Boy, you're not even close. 

The people who are you telling you they can make it to the pros? You know, your posse or your AAU handlers/agents, even your AAU coach? They're wrong.  Your decision-making has barely been Division I worthy, much less NBA worthy. You're currently shooting 30% on your twos, 29% on your threes, and 44% on your free throws. You'd have a hard time getting onto an Asian Basketball League squad with those stats.

And the worst part is that you've been taking the most shots of the team, from almost anywhere on the court!  I've seen you pull-up and take contested threes, something I've only seen maybe two to three basketball players ever do consistently on a regular basis (Sorry G-Frank, you're not Kobe Bryant or LeBron James). Your "finishes at the rim" look like something out of a failed Rucker Park tape, and we all know how well mixtape stuff works on the parquet. To find out this was all just a showcase to display your talent to the millions of scouts clamoring for the Gary Franklin Experience is ... well, far from professional.

I know my basketball pretty well, and I see a lot of improving you need to do outside your shooting. You don't space the floor well and end up clogging the offense. You stop the ball when you get it and it's hard to see how other guys on the team could flourish from your playing style. Your perimeter defensive effort is simply not good enough--a lot of wide open threes have come with you sagging off your man to make a 1% gamble at a steal, or just standing around and watching the action. If you were on last year's team, you'd have been buried on the bench behind D.J. Seeley, and he was deep into Monty's doghouse. The only reason you played as much as you did is because we have no other wings who can score consistently. In a normal college basketball situation, you wouldn't sniff the floor.

And the worst part? YOU'RE NOT EVEN A POINT GUARD.

I don't know who's telling you you are, but your handles aren't even close to being strong enough for any league. Brandon Smith? He might not be as talented as you, but he's a natural point--he distributes first and scores second. Even Jorge Gutierrez run the point better, despite all the fans he's murdered in the front row courtesy of some of his passes.

In short, you look for your shot waaaay too much to succeed as a point. The age of Stephon Marbury has been over for a decade. If you think you're a point guard, set up your teammates and move the rock.

Look, you obviously are a talented basketball player. Whoever's in your ear tellling you that you're ready for the league, they're lying to you. You need to cut them out of your life and start making decisions for yourself about what you want your future to be. Going into Coach Montgomery's office and telling him "you need to play point guard to get into the NBA" will be a huge folly for your future as both a pro and an individual.

I hope you don't end up regretting your decision, but I have a sad feeling that you will. The odds are against you, and they just grew way way longer with this incident. Good luck.

Mater Dei connection?

Despite all I said above, I find it hard to blame the kid. For whatever reason, Mater Dei talents have fallen prey to the vicious world of college basketball recruiting, where they seem to be gaining all the wrong influences. Scummy agents and  that come on in early to try and milk them for all they're worth.

Blake Grimsley, publicist for Arizona athletics, had this fascinating tweet about the constant state of flux surrounding Mater Dei basketball prospects.

The transfers from former Mater Dei HS bball players r beginning to get ridiculous. Maybe ur just not that good, & that's why ur not playing

Taylor King (twice), Kamryn Brown, The Wear Twins, Mike Gerrity (twice), and now Gary Franklin. All within the past five seasons.

I don't really know the people among Franklin's entourage, but I presume that these kids aren't protected well enough by the school. The AAU circuit is vicious if you're not protected properly and fall in with the wrong crowd. His dad being heavily involved is always a bad sign.

(Also, the fact that Franklin's dad was his AAU coach for the California Supremes...AND that Franklin's dad made the announcements of his son's commitment to Cal and his son's transfer instead of Franklin himself...well, we've had plenty of experience with exasperating sports parents before. Don't discount his role in this mess.)

Franklin probably never stood a chance with such a bad crowd around him, from agents to friends to family. As Faraudo alluded to, "it smacks of a kid who has people in his ear, telling him how much better things will be at the next place."

Where this leaves us

Alright, so Franklin's gone. What will Cal do now?

In the long run, we should be ok. This class is packed with guards. Emerson Murray will probably take some of Franklin's minutes. Alex Rossi (a more natural two guard with a solid shooting stroke) should be in the mix next season, and provide us with the much needed bench production we've lacked the past few years.

In the short run though? We're paper thin. Rossi is probably done for this year and Murray isn't close to being ready to handle the weight of added minutes. That puts Gutierrez and Nigel Carter in their spots, meaning transfer Jeff Powers will probably have to come in and spell them for extended stretches. They're not exactly the next Big Three in hoops.

However, it's clear who the leader of the freshmen has to be now: Allen Crabbe. We've been hard on Crabbe for being tentative with his shot; now he'll get the chance to lead the group. There might've been a subtle battle for who would lead the frosh between the aggressive Franklin and the smoother Crabbe; that battle seems to have been resolved.  Crabbe will be able to look for his shot.

Also benefiting could be Richard Solomon, who will need to see more playing time with Bak Bak likely to be Crabbe's primary backup as Carter slides over to the two.  Solomon has had trouble getting minutes, but he should have some chances now.

Ultimately, this could be a good thing for the team. If Franklin's troubles were weighing down the rest of the team (they certainly were offensively), having him leave could be addition by subtraction. It'll be interesting to watch them tonight against Arizona and see how hard they compete and fight. The next few weeks will be telling as to how far this team can continue to grow and develop as a team.

Regardless of whether they can or can't, Mike Montgomery has his hands full.

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