Franklin contemplating walk-on offer

Milwaukee prep guard enjoyed visit to UW; mulls Badger ‘dream' and St. Francis scholarship offer

Ricky Franklin still is not exactly sure how his opportunity at the University of Wisconsin would unfold over the next four or five years. And he may still end up in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. this fall, if he chooses to accept a scholarship offer to St. Francis.

But playing basketball for the Badgers has always been Franklin's dream. And the Milwaukee City Conference Player of the Year is drawn toward staying close to home and following that aspiration, even if it is as a walk-on in Madison.

Franklin's choice boils down to this: take a certain scholarship offer to St. Francis or see if a walk-on opportunity at his childhood favorite can blossom into something more.

"I want to be at home," Franklin said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon, shortly after returning to Milwaukee from an unofficial visit at UW. "And I've been wanting to go to Wisconsin for a long time. I've been wanting to be a Badger since I've been little."

"Hopefully I will be making my decision by next week," Franklin said. "But we'll see."

Franklin, a point guard who averaged 20 points per game at Milwaukee Riverside his senior year, spent more than six hours today touring campus and meeting with Badger head coach Bo Ryan and his staff.

"We just talked a lot about the school and they showed me around more," Franklin said.

Some of the details are still foggy, but Franklin said that he has been offered the opportunity to walk-on and potentially play for Wisconsin beginning in the 2006-07 season. He would enroll in classes this fall and might be able to practice with the team while redshirting. Franklin would then have the opportunity to compete for a scholarship; he said there is a "50/50" chance he would be on scholarship as early as 2006-07.

Franklin disputed reports that he will not be qualified academically in 2005-06, saying he has already been accepted to St. Francis and has passed through the NCAA Clearinghouse. He said he scored a 19 on his ACT but he could not remember his cumulative grade-point average. In college, he wants to major in either criminal justice or electrical engineering.

If he attends St. Francis, Franklin expects to suit up with the team as a freshman. But if he chooses the Badgers, he will focus on his class work while redshirting.

"This year I'd just go to school," he said. "Because I want to concentrate more on my studies this year."

If he takes the walk-on route at UW, he may or may not practice with the team this fall.

"It all depends. They really haven't explained that to me yet," Franklin said. "But it really doesn't matter to me, as long as I'm there."

The Badgers currently have one scholarship offer available for the class of 2006 and are awaiting word from Delafield (Wis.) St. John's guard Trevon Hughes regarding that spot. But Franklin said he could go on scholarship that season.

"It's a chance," he said. "It's 50/50. They really don't know yet."

"They said I'd have an opportunity to play next year (2006-07), I just have to work real hard and I'm willing to do that," Franklin said. "That was really it. They just said that I have a chance to play."

Franklin could also go on scholarship beginning in 2007-08 and play for three years as a scholarship athlete at UW, if he indeed redshirts this fall.

However, Franklin said, "there's really no guarantees. But that's my dream."

The opportunity to receive a definite scholarship at St. Francis, however, is still a consideration.

"I'm just going to make my decision soon," Franklin said. "I still haven't decided yet."

Asked what his decision could come down to, Franklin responded: "I want to make sure that I'm going to have a good education and I'm going to have somewhere to play; somewhere someone's going to make me better so I could try to get to the next level."

Franklin said he has lived in Milwaukee his entire life and that he grew up going to Wisconsin football games. "I was a real good fan," he said. "I followed basketball a lot too."

Franklin was a first-team all-state selection this year but colleges did not begin recruiting him seriously until February, he said after Saturday's Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division 1 All-Star game. In addition to Wisconsin and St. Francis, Franklin received interest from Cincinnati, Tennessee, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay.

But Franklin said the other schools, besides St. Francis, "heard I was going to come here (Wisconsin) and they just stopped, like full on stopped (recruiting)."

Listed at 6-foot-1, Franklin is lauded for his strength in the paint. It is a skill he developed out of necessity.

"My freshman year I played the ‘3' and I was like 5-10," he said.

Franklin also played small forward as a sophomore and while he averaged 9.2 points per game (according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), he said his primary duty was rebounding.

"I've been playing in the paint like mostly my whole life because, you know, in Milwaukee people are not really that tall so you can play down low here and get away with it," Franklin said. "But senior year that's when I really had to adjust to the point guard role."

He adapted to his new position rather well, leading Riverside to a third-place finish in the City Conference. He is still known for his abilities in the lane, but he also made 37 3-pointers this year.

Franklin feels his breadth of skills will translate well to the college game.

"I can shoot. I like to run. I play defense. So I think I'll be real good at the collegiate level," he said.

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