Tony Bennett landed his first big recruit today in this year’s transfer market. Former Indiana guard Armaan Franklin will be a Wahoo. The 6’4 sophomore is coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 11.4 points while hitting 42% of his attempts from three-point range. He chose Virginia in a hotly contested recruitment over Illinois, Louisville, Notre Dame, Texas, and several others.
In the end, the real dilemma for Franklin may have been with whether to remain at Indiana. New coach Mike Woodson has managed to convince most of the current players to pull their names out of the transfer portal. As an Indianapolis native and one of the young stars on the team, there was a lot of pressure on Franklin to follow the crowd by staying put. Instead, he’s grabbing the opportunity at Virginia.
We won’t know many of the details of a transfer recruitment in this Zoom era during the dead period. But this was clearly the guard that the UVA coaching staff had invested the most energy in. Following from the outside, it was a roller coaster. Illinois sources were confident they had him for a while. Then Indiana seemed to believe he would stay. Louisville had multiple Zooms. Texas tried to jump in late. Meanwhile, Tony Bennett and Jason Williford kept plugging away over a crazy couple weeks. Underestimated as usual, they quietly got their man.
What Are We Getting
Virginia is getting an already proven quality high major guard with the potential to become great. Franklin offers them the best of both worlds in terms of immediate help with upside for the future. He made the hard decision to come to Charlottesville because it’s the best path toward reaching that potential. Everyone that knows him raves about his character and work ethic. This is a guy that’s about the right stuff and wants to be great.
He’s a well rounded true two-way player. Indiana’s 2nd leading scorer and their best perimeter defender. I mentioned this before, but he’s essentially what we hoped Casey Morsell would be at this point. Sliding into that same role and class, it’s a perfect fit for Virginia on the court and with roster construction.
Franklin should be a starter at Virginia for the next two seasons. He’ll be a featured player. Someone we turn toward to make a play in big moments. That’s the type of ability that was missing this past year.
Recruiting Going Forward
With Franklin aboard, Virginia is now back up to nine scholarship payers. However, that includes Trey Murphy who hasn’t yet decided whether to enter the NBA Draft. They’ll look to add at least one more, ideally two. Even more isn’t out of the question.
As the chart shows, Virginia has plenty of guards now. They’ve pulled out of the race for Charleston Southern transfer Phlandrous Fleming. He and Franklin were being recruited for one spot. The right wing player would still be of interest, especially with it looking more possible that Trey Murphy stays in the NBA Draft.
The focus is on the frontcourt now. There’s a gaping hole to fill there. Tony Bennett had the final Zoom call tonight with a player that would go a long way toward solving the problem, East Carolina forward Jayden Gardner. He’s set to decide any day now between a final five of Virginia, NC State, Miami, Arkansas, and LSU. That’s a big upcoming verdict.
After that, it’ll be interesting to see where they turn. They’ll certainly need a power forward, if not Gardner then someone similar. I expect it to be mostly a player by player situation otherwise. The right big man could still be of interest too, along with a wing. And they’re open to the right long term additions as well, even if not the type of players who’d contribute right away.
We still have work to do on this Spring patch job. But the next two seasons look a lot brighter tonight thanks to Armaan Franklin.
(Image: Trevor Ruszkowski USA Today Sports)