NHS grad coaching in Nevada

Published 12:24 am Sunday, June 1, 2008

NATCHEZ —It’s been a long and winding road for John Franklin since his days as a Bulldog.

Franklin, a 1990 graduate of Natchez High, was recently hired to be the boys head basketball coach at McQueen High School in northwestern Reno, Nev.

“I guess I must have impressed the right people,” Franklin said.

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The Natchez native takes over a struggling program, which was 2-23 the past two seasons under Tobey Hilliard.

Franklin described McQueen as a dominant football school that makes regular stops in the state championship. He wants to make it a basketball school as well.

“I’m planning on turning (McQueen) into a dominant basketball school through things I learned from Mike Martin,” he said.

Franklin — who was a player under coach Martin at Natchez High — said what he learned from Martin were defensive principles, the basic fundamentals some players take for granted, having fun and staying true to who you are as a coach.

At McQueen, Franklin said he is not only the head boy’s basketball coach, but he is also in charge of overseeing the varsity and freshman teams at the high school as well as two middle schools – Billinghurst and Clayton.

Although the team he inherited struggled the last few years, Franklin said he’s confident a turn around will take place under his watch.

“Without a doubt they’re going to surprise a lot of people. There is a lot of young talent.”


After being named the Metro Player of the Year at Natchez High, Franklin took his game to Imperial Valley (Calif.) College.

He said he had considered going to Copiah-Lincoln Community College, but wanted to spread his wings, so to speak.

“The sound of California to a young Mississippi kid just sounded like a fun place to go,” Franklin said. “Plus I just wanted to go and see what the rest of the world had to offer.”

Following two years at IVC Franklin was considered the top JUCO center in the nation and transferred to the University of Nevada-Reno.

“At Nevada I kind of took a different route,” Franklin said. “(I) ended up walking away, trying to pursue basketball on a professional level.”

Which led Franklin to the coaching profession.

Last season Franklin was the JV girl’s basketball coach at McQueen. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at Hug High School in Reno for seven years.

As with most coaches, Franklin has an ultimate goal — to coach collegiately.

“I’m currently trying to turn this program around,” Franklin said, who has been offered various roles with colleges such as a recruiter. “Ultimately I’m going to end up coaching in college.”

Franklin said his goal is to coach at a Division I school, but he understands he has to pay his dues.

“You’ve got to crawl before you can walk,” the 6-foot-8 coach said. “I don’t think my work here on the high school level is quite finished.

“This job will allow me to get to where I want to be on the high school level.”

Although he had to give it up due to his new position at McQueen, Franklin ran a basketball academy, The Footwork Academy, for four years to help develop local high school kids in the Reno area.

During that time he also became a personal trainer to several professional basketball players — most notably the Utah Jazz’s Paul Millsap and the Portland Trailblazers’ Joel Pryzbilla.

“I’m right in there doing (workouts) with them. I’m banging them and they’re banging me. I’m learning how strong I’m not anymore,” Franklin said jokingly.

Next month Franklin will be back in the South when he helps run the Mike Bibby Camp in Atlanta from July 14-18.