Donovan Franklin, the career scoring leader in boys basketball at O’Fallon High School, has made a verbal commitment to Indiana State of the Missouri Valley Conference.
The 6-foot-5 Franklin returned from Terre Haute, Ind., on Friday afternoon after spending Thursday with his future teammates. He will sign with the Sycamores on April 13.
“Mainly, it was the coaching staff, the relationships we have and it being so close to home,” Franklin said Friday of his reasons for committing to Indiana State after playing this season at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla. “That’s a league I can go into and make some things happen and help Indiana State out. They’ve helped me out, too.”
Franklin said Indiana State was among several Division I schools interested in him during his senior year, but it “never really pulled the trigger.”
Franklin averaged 14.9 points and led Gulf Coast State College (18-12) with 51 3-pointers. He played in 30 games, making 22 starts. Indiana State became convinced Franklin was a fit.
“They finally offered me (a scholarship) about a month ago,” Franklin said. “My dad and my brother (both named David) were looking at some schools that would be a good fit for me. Indiana State fits me. It was an easy choice. Coach (Greg) Lansing believed in me and that’s what you want. He’s going to push me, and that’s what I want.”
One of Franklin’s new teammates at Indiana State will be 6-9 Emondre Rickman, of Collinsville, who just completed his freshman season last week at the MVC Tournament in St. Louis. Rickman and Franklin graduated in 2015.
“I talked to Emondre (Thursday),” Franklin said. “We were reminiscing and stuff like that. He’s a good friend of mine. We can’t wait to be able to play together. It’s exciting for both of us.”
Franklin, who plans to major in sports management, said he has made noticeable strides in his year as a college player.
“I’ve gotten stronger,” he said. “I’m still in the gym working on my shot and my (ballhandling). My IQ has gotten better just being at the JUCO level. I’m ready to get to the D-I level. You want to come in and start right away and hit the ground running. That’s always the plan. That’s what I’m striving for and working toward.”
Franklin averaged 21.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and three assists, with 35 3-pointers, as a senior at O’Fallon. He shot 79 percent from the free-throw line and was a first-team pick on the News-Democrat’s large-school all-area team.
Franklin finished his career with 1,616 points, surpassing the late Marv Reno’s former record of 1,532 points.
Franklin received offers from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Ohio Valley Conference school SIU Edwardsville, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State during his senior year, but instead went to junior college.
Franklin said he enjoyed his one year in Florida, but the distance was an issue.
“It was pretty far away,” he said. “I got kind of homesick. It feels great to be home.”
David Franklin, Donovan’s older brother, just completed his junior season at McKendree after two years at Lake Land. David Franklin led the Bearcats in scoring at 21.7 points per contest and was a second-team selection on the all-Great Lakes Valley Conference squad.
“He had an unbelievable year,” Donovan Franklin said. “I wish I could have caught some games to support him.”