Franklin named new WGH coach

The Warren G. Harding Raiders basketball program has a new, but familiar face guiding the program.

Keelyn Franklin is that face. Franklin has worked in the school district since 2014 and has served as a freshman, junior varsity and assistant varsity coach at Warren G. Harding before being named the interim head coach when Gabe Bubon stepped down in April.

“Franklin understands the dynamics of being the head basketball coach at Warren G. Harding,” said Raiders athletic director Bill Nicholson in a news release. “He is a great role model and mentor for our student athletes and will hold high standards for our players both on and off the court.”

Franklin is excited to lead the Raiders going forward.

“This is something that I’ve always wanted, and I’ve always been working toward,” Franklin said. “When I figured it out that it was official and I was named the head coach, I was very excited, very anxious, and just kind of ready to get to work.”

Franklin, a 2007 Harding graduate, played under current Raiders football coach Steve Arnold before going on to play four years of collegiate basketball at Shawnee State University. In addition, Franklin served as the coordinator of the Warren Youth Basketball League for youth basketball players in grades four through six. He relishes the opportunity to coach at his alma mater.

“I can’t even explain it. It’s an awesome feeling,” Franklin said. “To be the head coach at a school and for a program that gave me so many opportunities, so many memories and things I still look back on to this day, to be in a position to give our young people those same experiences is something that I don’t take lightly and something that I’m very excited about.”

Despite being named the interim head coach, getting the job still came as a surprise.

“I knew that I was in a good position being named the interim coach and being around the program for the last seven years, but you never really know,” Franklin said. “I wasn’t sure, I kind of knew I was in a good position but I wasn’t sure how things we’re going to unfold.”

Going forward with the program, Franklin wants to put more of a focus on conditioning.

“We’re going to develop our bodies,” Franklin said. “I think we have to get stronger physically, and with that comes that mentality and you become stronger mentally also. We’re definitely going to hit the weights hard.”

Franklin, being a younger guy, gives him an opportunity to connect with his players differently than many other coaches.

“I think it works well because I’m young enough to still relate to the guys,” he said. “We still listen to the same music, but at the same time, I’m old enough to give the guys those stories, knowing the things I’ve been through. I think it’s a good balance. I have a great relationship with our guys from my seven years on the staff and also through my youth basketball league. Pretty much all of our varsity players played in my league, so I think that will make my transition a lot easier.”

Harding may feel disappointment coming off of a 12-11 season, but Franklin wants to take the solid foundation the Raiders have and build up something special.

“Improve every day,” Franklin said. “I told the guys, ‘Every day we have to lay a brick. We’re trying to build a house here. So every single day we lay a brick.’ The past two weeks after every workout I asked the guys if we got better today. I think if we can keep that mentality on a day-to-day basis, to continue to improve and get better every single day, I think everything can handle itself.”