AKRON, Ohio - Roger Franklin isn't the best player at the Lebron James Skills Academy, but he is probably the loudest. And that's not a bad thing.
Franklin, of Duncanville, Tex., is ranked No. 76 in the nation, and is enjoying a quality stay at the annual NIKE camp. Those here who haven't noticed his solid, constructive game probably have at least heard his high-decibel vocals.
He isn't a singer. He's more of a chanter, an implorer. When running back on defense after his team scores, he can often be heard bellowing out a "Yyyyyyyyeah!"
Like 20 times a game, or more.
It has caught on. During the last game on Monday night, a few guys who play for other camp teams watched from the sidelines while Franklin's team battled to a 100-96 victory, and rooted Franklin on. When Franklin scored, six or seven campers on the sideline would call out with a rising "Yyyyyyyyeah!"
Franklin would answer them with a "Yyyyyyyyeah!"
When he checked out of the game, they called out to him with a "Yyyyyyyyeah!"
And he answered, as he sat down on the bench, with a "Yyyyyyyyeah!"
A couple of weeks ago, at the NBAPA Camp, he became known for yelling, "We in here!"
"That was a quote that I used a lot at the NBA Camp," he said. "I would say real loud, 'We in here!' I get a lot of feedback from the other players; they answer me and say, 'We in here!'
He yells not only to get himself going, but mostly to get teammates going. Before each defensive possession, he's usually barking positives to a teammate.
"Hey, I'm an energetic guy," he said. "I guess it just runs through my veins, it's in my blood that I love to play, love to get hyped. I'm very enthusiastic, very energetic. I guess that's just from drinking my milk and getting my rest at night."
He lives up to his bark. He hustles to the glass for rebounds, and sprints back on defense at every opportunity.
"I am such an energetic worker and I want everybody all my teammates to do so good and do their best," he said. "I fully believe that there is no 'i' in team, so I know if I can get pumped up and get ready for a game and get these other guys pumped up and if we go in there as a unit we will be more effective."
He continues with the vocals during morning drill work.
"During the drills, I try to push everybody so hard because this is a privilege to be here, this is an invitation-only camp, we are supposed to be the best in the country, and I just feel honored to be able to play with these guys, so I want to go hard and make sure everybody else goes hard," he said.
He is truly different.
"I want to be noticed in D-1 basketball, but I want everyone else to be noticed too," he said. "That's the reason I cheer everyone on."
What D-1 schools are noticing him?
"I'm hearing from Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Michigan State, Memphis, also Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, USC and Baylor," he said.
Who is showing the most interest, recruiting him the hardest at this point?
"I can't really say right now because everybody is showing great interest," he said. "All of these colleges, they are finally starting to notice that I have transitioned from a power forward to a wing. I don't have a favorite right now, but I just feel blessed that they're interested, that they have given me a scholarship offer. I'm just taking it day by day."
When asked what schools have offered scholarships, he said: "Right now, Utah, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Michigan State, also Indiana. I don't know if I said Utah; I want to make sure I say Utah. Oklahoma. And I think that's about it. And Memphis is very interested."
It's no surprise that coaches appreciate Franklin's RPMs.
"They say they love my energy," he said. "They say that throughout the course of the game, they know they are going to hear me scream, they know I'm going to work hard, I'm going to get on my teammates' butts to make sure they work hard. And they say my basketball I.Q. is a lot higher than a lot of the players."
In the nightcap game on Monday, he scored 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting. He was 1-of-3 from 3-point range.
Among the coaches in attendance watching him were Utah head coach Jim Boylen and Indiana head coach Tom Crean, as well as assistant coaches from Oklahoma State and Baylor.
A BIG BACKGROUND
Franklin was a power forward at a younger age. But he was advised by his father and uncles to begin taking his game to the perimeter because they felt he might not grow any taller.
He is listed at 6-foot-6 in the Rivals.com database, but was measured at 6-foot-4 at the Lebron Camp.
He is perhaps the strongest, most muscular wing player at the camp. His background as a post player translates well to loose ball situations around the rim, and broken-court and fastbreak situations. He's a good finisher in there, especially with the reverse lay-up.
On Sunday night, he showed the unique ability to pump fake and then go up strong and quick to score around the rim against 6-foot-11 Demarcus Cousins.
Later, while getting trapped along the baseline, he paused to belt a defender with his shoulder, creating room for him to dish out an assist to a friend on the other side of the lane.
These are things that wing guards just don't do.
He is somewhat comparable to Paul Williams, a 2008 graduate from Detroit who signed with Dayton. Franklin is a little taller than Williams, and probably jumps a little better, and is much more active. Williams' shooting ability was a bit better at this stage.
Defensively, he has the potential to be a Ken Redfield type of lockdown bulldog.
Franklin's perimeter game is pretty good, and needs to get better.
"But I know I need more work there," he said. "All players can improve everywhere."
He hit a nice 17-footer off the dribble on Monday night, and pounded his chest while getting back on defense.
After that bucket, teammates and onlooking campers serenaded him with a "Yyyyyyyyeah!"
But it remains to be seen which college Franklin says "yes" to in the future. It also remains to be seen whether MSU gives him the full-blast recruiting push. MSU is also very serious about Racine, Wis. wing Jamil Wilson, and has been closely watching Glenn Bryant, who plays at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy and was originally from Macomb (Mich.) Dakota.
There are also indications that the Spartans will continue to scout wing players, with the possibility of getting in on more as they look to add a third commitment to their 2009 class, joining verbals from big men Derrick Nix, of Detroit Pershing, and Garrick Sherman, of Kenton, Ohio.