Mater Dei alum Gary Franklin has found a home at Baylor

Gary Franklin and Baylor will face Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Baylor guard Gary Franklin was so happy to be back home in Southern California … he slept.

Franklin was in a "food coma" thanks to the team meal he and his mates had at a Southern California staple, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles upon arrival Tuesday night in preparation for their NCAA tournament Sweet 16 matchup with Wisconsin on Thursday at Honda Center.

"I was able to sleep better," Franklin said.  

Franklin ate a lot but not too much leading to his "food coma."

"I had chicken," Franklin said. "I had waffles, and I had a side of fries. It was very filling, so I couldn’t move.

"I didn’t get mac and cheese and collard greens. We had practice today, and I wouldn’t be able to get off the floor, so I had to think about that."

It’s good to be home for Franklin. Admittedly, a big family guy, home was a place he didn’t want to stray too far away from coming out of Mater Dei High School in 2010.

While his heart was set on Baylor after decommitting from USC, his mind told him to go up north to Cal in order to be closer to home, so friends and family would have an easier time coming to see him play.

Franklin enjoyed immediate success in his freshman season with the Golden Bears but lasted just 13 games at Cal. He started 11 of those games while averaging 8.2 points per game but his heart wasn’t in it. Neither was his mind anymore so he transferred in January.  

"At Cal I felt I was playing more off the ball, kind of a catch-and-shoot kind of player, and I’m used to playing the combo (guard) which allows you to shoot and allows you to score," Franklin said. "At that time, Jorge (Gutierrez) was playing the point and him not being a natural point I didn’t think that our games were fitting each other and I didn’t think that my development for the next level was growing not having the ball in my hands." 

Waco, Texas and Baylor would be his destination, a place he visited and loved coming out of high school — and the Bears welcomed him with open arms.

"We had recruited Gary out of high school and just so impressed with his family and impressed with him," Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. "We’re all big Gary fans."  

Franklin’s junior year in high school, Mater Dei boasted the rare feat of all five starters on their way to high major Division I programs. Franklin, at the time was committed to USC but ended up at Cal, the Wear Twins were committed to North Carolina, Andy Brown was headed to Stanford, and Tyler Lamb signed with UCLA.

Four of those five players transferred from their original college destinations, adding to a list of former Mater Dei players who decided to switch programs during their college careers and prompting the question, why?

Players from five of the last seven Mater Dei classes have ended up transferring from the school they signed with, most recently 2012 grad Katin Reinhardt leaving UNLV for USC. Coincidentally enough, Reinhardt, like Franklin, was once a USC commit in high school.

"I had a lot of pressure not only from my family and friends to stay close to home but also my teachers (at Mater Dei), who I had really close relationships with, to go to a place where you would get a really good education at Cal," Franklin said. "As an athlete you realize academics is not everything as far as keeping me happy on campus. Not to talk down about Waco but there’s not a lot of things to do there as a 21-year-old man wanting to have fun, but if you’re playing basketball and you’re playing a lot and you’re winning, you’€™re having fun, so that dictates where you go a lot throughout college. You don’t know that until you get on campus."

Even though there aren’t any Roscoe’s-induced food comas in Waco, at Baylor Franklin found a home.