Vicksburg basketball star Franklin celebrates signing with Jones

Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Malik Franklin started his high school basketball career as a hard-headed rebel. He finished it as a team leader and one of the top players in Mississippi, whose best days are yet to come.

Franklin signed with Jones College in December, and celebrated the achievement with a ceremony Wednesday at Vicksburg High. It capped a year in which he was named the MHSAA’s Mr. Basketball for Class 5A and The Vicksburg Post’s boys’ Player of the Year award for Warren County.

“When you started not in the conversation, it feels good to be in that conversation,” Franklin said of being one of the state’s elite players.

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As a younger player, Franklin struggled for playing time and to make an impression. It wasn’t until his junior year, when he was thrust into a leadership role as one of the team’s few upperclassmen, that he started coming into his own.
Franklin averaged 13.2 points per game and was selected to the Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star Game for juniors in the 2021-22 season.

This year, he averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists per game this season, and played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game.

With Franklin leading the way, the Gators improved from a 12-17 record in the 2021-22 season to a 28-4 mark this year and the Region 4-5A regular-season championship.

“He’s grown leaps and bounds. I remember putting him out of the gym in the ninth grade,” Vicksburg coach Kelvin Carter said with a chuckle. “You put him in the game and he’d do something crazy in the 10th grade. Then 11th grade year, 12th grade year, and now he’s signing a basketball scholarship. It’s super gratifying.”

Franklin said he’s looking forward to going to Jones — a strong Mississippi junior college program that finished 17-11 and reached the NJCAA Region 23 championship game last season — to continue his basketball journey.

“I’m really fired up. He said he’s going to get me better at defense, and I need some defense,” Franklin said. “I really improved on the leadership side, the mental side. I’ve got a lot more to go. I’m nowhere near where I’m supposed to be at.”

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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