2023 All-County Basketball: Mr. Basketball Malik Franklin is The Post’s Player of Year

Published 3:00 am Sunday, March 12, 2023

Malik Franklin had to work hard for his success.

As a freshman and sophomore he mostly rode the bench. As a junior, he had to learn how to be a leader. Even after a great senior season in which he was named Mr. Basketball in Class 5A — the award given to the top player in each classification in the Mississippi High School Activities Association — he never fully saw himself as a superstar.

“I didn’t even know Mr. Basketball was a thing until I saw it on Facebook. I didn’t even know I was in the poll or anything,” he said with a laugh. “Nobody ever told me that. It was always you’re not good enough, or you’re not where you’re supposed to be. I took that as motivation to keep working. It’s a humbling sentence to make it.”

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Franklin worked hard enough to be the top player in Mississippi, and also the best in Warren County. He is the 2023 Vicksburg Post boys’ basketball Player of the Year.

Franklin averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game this season, played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game, and has signed with Jones College.

“He could do a little bit of everything,” Vicksburg coach Kelvin Carter said. “I wish at times he was a little more selfish, but that’s just the type of kid he is. On a nightly basis he could have been a 20-point scorer because he can shoot free throws. But he brought a lot to the table.”

Both Carter and Franklin acknowledged that it wasn’t always that way. Both coach and player said Franklin was a bit hard-headed earlier in his career, when the Gators were loaded with upperclassmen and his playing time was limited.

“When he was younger he wanted everything to go his way. You put him in a game and he’ll do what he wanted to do,” Carter said. “His junior year you started to see him evolve on the floor, in the locker room, in the weight room and things like that. To see him mature into the man he is as a senior … he’s still got a long way to go but it’s good to see.”

Last season, a large senior class graduated and thrust Franklin into a more prominent role that he quickly grew into. Franklin averaged 13.2 points per game and was selected to the Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star Game for juniors.

“It was really confidence in the situation I got put in. We lost eight seniors my sophomore year, so I had to step up,” Franklin said.

This year, both he and the Gators broke out in an even bigger way.
Led by Franklin, the Gators more than doubled their win total from 12 to 28 and won the MHSAA Region 4-5A regular-season championship.

Franklin earned a scholarship from junior college power Jones, and capped it all off with the Mr. Basketball award.

“In ninth grade I thought I was going to pay to go to school. Then it just happened,” Franklin said of his success.
The one downer for Franklin and the Gators — one they’re still having a hard time getting over nearly a month later — was the way the season ended.

They let a lead slip away in the final minute and lost to New Hope in the second round of the Class 5A state tournament, bringing a sour finish to an otherwise great season that included a 28-4 record.

“It was all good until the end. The outcome of that game changed the whole perspective of the season. I still think about it to this day,” Franklin said. “As far as achievements and accomplishments it was a good year, but as a team I don’t think we ended where we were supposed to end at.”

The ending shouldn’t diminish, however, the success the Gators did have or the way Franklin rose up to be a key part of it. From riding the bench as a sophomore to being the best in the state as a senior, Franklin’s story is one to celebrate.

“To say from what he came from, he could have been hitchhiking or getting cut, to Mr. Basketball should be a great honor,” Carter said.

Vicksburg Post Boys Basketball Players of the Year
2023 – Malik Franklin, Vicksburg
2022 – Chris Taylor, Porter’s Chapel
2021 – Sean Hardy, Vicksburg
2020 – Cameron Butler, Vicksburg
2019 – Devan Kiner, Vicksburg
2018 – Chavis Smith, Warren Central
2017 – Kirk Parker, Vicksburg
2016 – Shaun Walton, Warren Central
2015 – Mario Doyle, Warren Central
2014 – De’Angelo Richardson, Vicksburg
2013 – Ted Brisco, Porter’s Chapel
2012 – Kourey Davis, Warren Central
2011 – Mychal Ammons, Vicksburg
2010 – Mychal Ammons and Kelsey Howard, Vicksburg
2009 – Kelsey Howard, Vicksburg
2008 – Jonathan Phelps, Vicksburg
2007 – Jonathan Phelps, Vicksburg
2006 – Hayden Hales, Porter’s Chapel
2005 – Chico Hunter, Warren Central
2004 – Kyle Richards, St. Aloysius
2003 – Devin Jones, Vicksburg
2002 – Willie Powers, Vicksburg
2001 – Demetrick Allen, Vicksburg
2000 – Herman Griffin, Vicksburg
1999 – Jason Johnson, St. Aloysius
1998 – Coleman Lewis, Warren Central
1997 – Brandon Carr, Porters Chapel
1996 – Quentin Smith, Vicksburg
1995 – Quentin Smith, Vicksburg
1994 – Oscar Denton, Vicksburg
1993 – Mark Smith, Vicksburg

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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