Armaan Franklin looks forward to growing as player, person under Bennett
Tony Bennett’s pitch to Indiana transfer Armaan Franklin might come across as a bit unusual – the part, anyway, where he went over film with Franklin showing him the mistakes he made as a sophomore on offense and on defense.
“We watched a lot of film, players that they’ve had who have succeeded and who’ve moved on to the next level, players who he’d see me as my role, I wouldn’t say my role necessarily, but players who thrived in the system, players who you can see how, when you buy in, it can work,” said Franklin, who committed to Virginia on April 8, after receiving interest from Xavier, Butler, Minnesota, Louisville, Penn State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Georgia, among others.
It’s highly doubtful that any of the others told Franklin, one of the most highly sought-after shooting guards in the 2021 transfer portal, that he’s ever done anything wrong, much less broken it down in depth on film over Zoom.
“Virginia is so tight on the Pack Line, any slight mistake, he showed me all the slight mistakes I was making on defense as well as offense,” said Franklin, who averaged 11.4 points per game, shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range, while logging 30.1 minutes per game at IU in 2020-2021.
“I think it’s just them taking the time, you know, to study my game and make a great assessment of my game and helping me know where they can help me improve, that’s really what you know, stuck with me, helped me make that decision,” Franklin said.
Kids like Franklin, who will have three years of eligibility at UVA, are used to being promised the world by coaches, but Franklin, despite the bevy of suitors, said he “kind of knew what I was looking for in a school” from the outset.
Bennett wasn’t among the first group of coaches to reach out, but when he did, it drew Franklin’s attention immediately.
“He said, we’re going to give you opportunities, you know, it’s on you to come in, work hard, whatever comes from that,” Franklin said. “He puts a lot of a lot of onus on you to come in and work hard. This is always what I’ve always done. That’s always what I’ve been used to.”
Franklin was among the most improved players in the country last season. As a freshman, he struggled to get minutes, and pressed when he did – shooting just 34.8 percent from the floor and 26.6 percent from three-point range while scoring a modest 3.7 points per game.
“I feel like I’m a good shooter. I think my freshman year, that wasn’t me. I shot really bad my freshman year, but just working on my game, putting in the work, I think you see strides in my game,” Franklin said. “I can create my own shot. I’m getting better on my decision-making in certain positions. I could get better at that as well, but I think I’m doing a good job of that right now.”
He knows he’ll have to get better on the defensive end. That will be a focus when he relocates to Charlottesville this summer.
“I want to get to know first the defense, how they work defensive coverages, because ultimately that’s what gets you on the floor here, so that’s what I want to learn first,” Franklin said. “And then I want to get to know how the offense works and where I would fit in, things that would help me get into the offense and help me know thrive in it as well.”
And he’s looking forward to growing as a person under the tutelage of Bennett.
“You can really tell he is a real, genuine guy, and I was looking for a place where I could feel like I have a good relationship with a coach and who I can build a relationship with, and be just bigger than basketball,” Franklin said. “So I think, you know, with that, within our first conversation, I just realized, you know, it was, to him, everything is bigger than basketball. He didn’t try to give me this huge, huge recruiting pitch. He just wanted to get to know me as a person first, you know, build that relationship up, that versus basketball.”
Story by Chris Graham