Freshman guard Gary Franklin, part of a highly touted Cal freshman recruiting class, is transferring.
Franklin, who came to Berkeley from Mater Dei HS in Santa Ana, informed the coaching staff of his decision on Tuesday morning and coach Mike Montgomery made the announcement today, just as the team was leaving for Arizona.
Franklin was not part of the travel party.
“We wish Gary well. We’re disappointed, but we wish him well,” Montgomery said in a statement released by the athletic department.
Through 13 games this season, 11 of which that he started, Franklin was fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.2 ppg. He had converted 24 of his 82 three-point attempts. He was shooting just 29.3 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from the FT line.
Franklin was coming off one of his best games of the season, a 15-point, four-assist effort in the Bears’ conference-opening loss at Stanford. Prior to that, he went through a six-game stretch where he made just 9 of 41 shots.
In fact, Franklin had attempted more field goals and more 3-pointers than any player on the Cal roster and was producing just 0.90 points per shot, a very inefficient number.
I haven’t had the chance to talk with Franklin yet, or anyone close to him, but it’s my guess his departure comes out of frustration not only with how he has played, but also because he views himself as a point guard and he has played only sporadically at that spot.
The defection leaves an already depth-challenged roster even thinner. Sophomore Brandon Smith had moved into the starting lineup in place of Franklin the past two games, and now walkon Nigel Carter (2.7 ppg, 10.5 minutes) figures to take on a bigger role.
Montgomery may also have to draft into action freshman Emerson Murray (0.5 ppg,6.6 minutes), who has potential but is very raw. Murray, from British Columbia, is shooting 1 for 11 and that basket came in the Nov. 16 opener against Cal State Northridge.
Freshman Alex Rossi, a sharpshooting wing, has yet to play this season because of a nagging groin injury. There has been no timetable for his return or any real expectation he could play this season.
The Bears (7-6, 0-1 Pac-10) play Thursday at Arizona (12-3, 1-1), one of the deepest teams in the Pac-10. The Wildcats have 10 players averaging double-digit minutes.
Franklin was rated the nation’s No. 78 overall prospect by Rivals.com a year ago. Scout.com had him as the No. 18 point guard and part of a five-man Cal class it ranked 21st nationally.
As a high school senior, playing alongside Keala King (Arizona State) and Tyler Lamb (UCLA), Franklin helped Mater Dei to a 32-2 record and the CIF state title. The Monarchs were 63-4 his final two seasons.