Taj McWilliams-Franklin

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Taj McWilliams-Franklin
Taj McWilliams-Franklin 2011.jpg
Forward/Center
Born (1970-10-20) October 20, 1970 (age 44)
El Paso, Texas
Nationality American
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight 188 lb (85 kg)
College St. Edward's
Draft 32nd overall, 1999
Orlando Miracle
WNBA career 1999–2014
Non-WNBA career 1993–2014
Profile WNBA player profile
WNBA teams
Orlando Miracle (1999–2002)
Connecticut Sun (2003–2006)
Los Angeles Sparks (2007)
Washington Mystics (2008)
Detroit Shock (2008–2009)
New York Liberty (2010)
Minnesota Lynx (2011-2012)
Non-WNBA teams
Wolfenbüttel (1993–1994)
Contern (1994–1995)
Galilee (1995–1996)
Philadelphia Rage (1996-1997)
Famila Schio (1999–2002)
Lavezzini Parma (2003–2004)
Gambrinus Brno (2004–2005)
Dandenong Rangers (2005)
CB Halcón Viajes (2005–2006)
Spartak Moscow Region (2006–2007)
Galatasaray (2008–2009)
Frisco Sika Brno (2009–2010)
Ros Casares (2011)
Spartak Moscow Region (2011)
Wisła Can-Pack Kraków (2012)
CAB-Clube Amigos do Basquet (2013-2014)
Awards and honors

Taj McWilliams-Franklin (born October 20, 1970) is a former American professional women's basketball player, and a current coach. In the United States, she last played the power forward position for the Minnesota Lynx. In 2013, she was named as one of two Assistant Coaches for the New York Liberty, a team which she used to play for.

Born Taj McWilliams, she married Reggie Franklin in 2003 and assumed a hyphenate surname.

A two-time WNBA champion and six-time all-star, McWilliams-Franklin's professional career has spanned three decades, and began before the WNBA was founded.[1] McWilliams-Franklin retired after 2012 season.

College years[edit]

After attending T. W. Josey High School in Augusta, Georgia, she attended Georgia State University in 1989 and played on the school's basketball team for one season. However, McWilliams-Franklin had become pregnant during her senior year in high school, and after the coach who recruited her to Georgia State was let go, the incoming staff told her "school was no place for kids." McWilliams-Franklin moved to Austin, Texas, where a friend connected her with St. Edward's University coach Dave McKey. McWilliams-Franklin enrolled at St. Edwards as a Rhetoric major.

While at St. Edward's, she set school records and individual achievements, including:

  • NAIA National Player of the Year in 1993.
  • Selected to the 1993 Kodak NAIA All-American team.
  • Member of the 1992 NAIA All-America second team.
  • Set school records for career scoring (1,837 points), most points scored for a single season (760), highest scoring average (24.5 ppg) and highest field goal percentage (.640).

McWilliams-Franklin said that after her first year at St. Edward's, she had the potential opportunity to transfer to a Division I school, but declined to pursue it, because she "felt loyalty is rewarded with loyalty."[2]

USA Basketball[edit]

McWilliams-Franklin was named to the USA national team in 1998. The national team traveled to Berlin, Germany in July and August 1998 for the FIBA World Championships. The USA team won a close opening game against Japan 95–89, then won their next six games easily. In the semifinal game against Brazil, the USA team was behind as much as ten points in the first half, but the USA went on to win 93–79. The gold medal game was a rematch against Russia. In the first game, the USA team dominated almost from the beginning, but in the rematch, the team from Russia took the early lead and led much of the way. With under two minutes remaining, the USA was down by two points but the USA responded, then held on to win the gold medal 71–65.[3]

ABL career[edit]

McWilliams-Franklin was drafted in 1996 (40th overall pick) and played two seasons for the Philadelphia Rage of the American Basketball League (ABL). She led the league in blocks with 1.5 per game and ranked fifth in field goal percentage (.528). She was also a member of the 1997 All-ABL second team.

WNBA career[edit]

McWilliams-Franklin has had a long and successful WNBA career, earning two titles and recognition as one of the all-time great post players in league history. McWilliams-Franklin ranks first in career offensive rebounds and second in career total rebounds.

McWilliams-Franklin at the 2007 All-Star Game

McWilliams-Franklin was selected by the Orlando Miracle in the third round (32nd overall pick) of the 1999 WNBA Draft. She starred for the Miracle for 4 years and remained with the franchise even when the Miracle relocated to Uncasville, Connecticut, and was renamed the Connecticut Sun prior to the 2003 season. From 1999 to 2008, McWilliams-Franklin played in six WNBA All-Star Games.

She was also a member of the starting team of the 2004 WNBA all-star squad that played against a select group of players (who were also WNBA players) from the USA Basketball team. That game was held on August 4, 2004 at the historic Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The game was held in place of the regular WNBA All-Star Game and was a send-off for the USA Basketball squad prior to their participation at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

McWilliams-Franklin was the recipient of the 2005 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. She was awarded a Tiffany-designed trophy and $5,000. In addition, she designated an additional $5,000 to go to the Mary Elizabeth House in Richmond, Virginia. She was also 2nd team all WNBA in 2005.

In February 2007, she was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for the draft rights of Erika DeSouza and a future selection in the 2007 WNBA Draft.

On April 22, 2008 the Los Angeles Sparks traded McWilliams-Franklin to the Washington Mystics for Delisha Milton-Jones. On August 12, 2008 McWilliams-Franklin was traded to the Detroit Shock for Tasha Humphrey, Eshaya Murphy, and a second round pick in the 2009 WNBA draft.

On April 22, 2010, McWilliams-Franklin signed a free agent deal with the New York Liberty.

McWilliams-Franklin was targeted as a key free agent acquisition by Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve prior to the 2011 season.[4] McWilliams-Frankin played as the team's starting center throughout the season, averaging 7.0 rebounds per game and 11.6 points per game. Lynx Assistant Coach Jim Petersen credited McWilliams-Franklin with having an outsize impact on the team both on and off the court, saying, "You can talk all you want about the things she has done on the floor, but it is in the locker room, in the scouting reports, in the film sessions and just even around the airport -- she's somebody to talk to that has been there and done that. She has seen it all."

Teammate Candace Wiggins agreed, noting that the team had nicknamed her "Mama Taj," and that "she is like a coach, a big sister for us, off the court and on. She has taken us all in. We are like her little chickies and she is the mother hen."[5]

Despite her age, McWilliams-Franklin was a key contributor to the Lynx's 2011 WNBA championship. She started 33 of 34 games during the regular season, and during the playoffs led her team in points once and assists three times, the last despite playing with a knee sprain.

McWilliams-Franklin came back for the 2012 season. Her longevity and talent earned her the career record for offensive rebounds in August, passing Yolanda Griffith.[6] On October 4, 2012, McWilliams-Franklin played in her 59th postseason game, the most of any player in league history.[7]

McWilliams-Franklin retired at the end of the 2012 season, though in a 2013 interview, she said she had not completely ruled out a comeback as a player in 2014.[8]

WNBA career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game  RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game  BPG  Blocks per game
 PPG  Points per game  TO  Turnovers per game  FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage  Bold  Career high League leader

Regular season[edit]

Postseason[edit]

Overseas career[edit]

McWilliams-Franklin began her playing career overseas. She played in Wolfenbuettel, Germany (1993–94); Contern, Luxembourg (1994–95); and in Galilee, Israel (1995–96).

She also spent the off-season playing in a professional league in 1999-2001Italy for Familia Schio. After the birth of her daughter, she went to Spain to play for Puig D'En Valls, Ibiza, Spain in 2003. Next, she played for Brno, Czech Republic in 2004, and Lavezzini Parma (Italy) in 2005.

In 2005, McWilliams-Franklin played in the Korean women's league with the Shinhan Bank S-Birds, and toured Australia, matching up with Dandenong Rangers in Melbourne. After the Korean season, she went to Salamanca, Spain, where she won a title, beating Barcelona in 5 games. She played half a season in Spartak Region, Moscow, Russia, then returned to Shinhan S-birds in Korea for the Korea professional season in 2006. She won the Korean title and was MVP of the finals in 2006, beating the Samsung team and Lauren Jackson. After having knee surgery in the 2007 offseason, she played in winter of 2007 in Israel. In 2008, she played for Galatasaray,[9] Turkey, which won the Turkish President's Cup.. In winter of 2009, she returned to Famila Schio Beretta. She then returned to Brno for the whole season 2009-2010.

In 2011, she played with the Spanish club Ros Casares Valencia on a short-term deal, and finished out the season with the WBC Spartak Moscow Region team that finished second in Euroleague Women. In 2012 Taj McWilliams-Franklin sign with TS Wisla Can-Pack Krakow.

In January 2014, at the age of 43, she returned to the courts to play in Portugal, with CAB Madeira.[10]

Honors[edit]

Coaching career[edit]

In May 2012, it was announced that McWilliams-Franklin would join the Rice University coaching staff as an assistant to head coach Greg Williams. McWilliams-Franklin is to join the team after the conclusion of the WNBA season.[12] While there was speculation that this meant McWilliams-Franklin would retire at the end of the 2012 season, McWilliams-Franklin made no formal announcement, saying only that she was "looking forward to becoming a contributing member of [the] staff."[13]

In 2013, after formally retiring, McWilliams-Franklin joined the New York Liberty as an assistant coach under Bill Laimbeer.

Personal[edit]

McWilliams-Franklin was born in El Paso, Texas. She has three daughters, and is married to Reginald Franklin. She lives in the San Antonio area.

McWilliams is a vegan. Her decision to become a vegan was the focus of a 2008 article, in which she said, "I just wanted to make sure I had a healthy body because I wanted to continue playing for a longer period than most of my peers."[14]

References[edit]

External links[edit]