Mahomet-Seymour's Franklin pivots into All-Star game

Mahomet-Seymour's Franklin pivots into All-Star game

MAHOMET — There had to be an adjustment period for Jessica Franklin.

After spending her first three high school years competing for a non-IHSA girls' basketball team at Arthur Okaw Christian, she went through the 2017-18 season suiting up with a Class 3A squad in Mahomet-Seymour.

It must've been a whole new world for Franklin and younger sisters/teammates Amanda and Alexa when it came to playing on the harwood. And in some respects, Jessica said, it was just that.

But that wasn't an all-encompassing view for the senior, who will take part in Sunday's Parkland College/News-Gazette All-Area All-Star girls' game at the Cobras' Dodds Athletic Center.

One aspect that didn't affect Franklin was a natural increase in crowd size from AOC's games to those of M-S.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," said Franklin, also a cross-country and track athlete throughout her prep career. "I've run so many 10Ks and 5Ks and had so many people yelling at me during the races."

Sunday's atmosphere doesn't project to be quite so aggressive. Franklin and fellow Bulldog Erin Lenschow will take part in the local senior showcase with 17 other girls, and both are on Team Black under M-S coach Nathan Seal.

Although Franklin hasn't determined if she wants to pursue a future in basketball — which would make Sunday's game a good evaluation stage for the next level — Seal has reminded her this is just an exhibition.

"It could be one last time because I haven't decided if I want to do basketball or if I want to run," Franklin said. "I'm going to take it seriously ... but Coach said to just have fun."

The eldest of the Franklin trio had plenty of that in her lone season at M-S. She led the 15-12 Bulldogs with 2.0 assists per game and contributed 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.

While statistically overshadowed by Amanda, a junior who paced M-S with 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per contest, Jessica was a key cog in the Bulldogs' big-school machine.

"She brought a lot to our team," Seal said. "She brought leadership, competitiveness and toughness to our team. All of (the Franklins) have strengths, and probably the biggest strength is how they read off reach other and play off each other."

Franklin said her biggest concern transitioning from AOC was not the change in competition, even though the Conquering Riders typically square off against other homeschool programs, as well as IHSA 1A and 2A teams.

She actually had more worries about fitting in among her new cohorts.

"At first I was nervous about starting and getting to the chemistry teams usually have," Franklin said. "I hadn't been with an actual team at a public school."

From Seal's perspective, adding this familial trio was a straightforward process.

"I'm sure there was an adjustment for all of them with the (opponents) and playing for a different coaching staff," he said. "They came in during the summer and fit right in with our team."

Sunday's game will offer a challenge unlike Franklin's experiences at both M-S and AOC. She'll hoist shots and cheer from the bench with athletes from six other schools in a matchup that doesn't count toward anyone's record or postseason placement.

At the very least, it'll be one more opportunity for Franklin to become even more well-versed in her winter sport of choice — and possibly her college venture.

"I've learned to be humble because you can know a lot of things and not be correct about something," she said. "I've learned to listen to people and other coaches and see their point of view."