When he committed to Indiana over a year ago, Armaan Franklin really wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to his role with the team as a true freshman.
As a three star recruit hovering right around No. 150 in the national rankings, the prognosticators didn’t see an immediate impact.
“Honestly didn’t know,” Franklin said on Friday when asked about his expectations for his freshman season when he first committed to IU back in September 2018. “I was just going to try to come in here and work my way into anything I could get.”
While the Indianapolis product wasn’t sure how year one might play out, there was at least one thing that wasn’t really on his radar at all.
“If you told me I would be playing point right now I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” Franklin continued.
Perhaps even more unbelievable then would have been this stat line from Franklin’s first college game: Eight assists, and no turnovers — while playing a significant amount of time at the point guard position.
There are some things Franklin could not have known about his freshman season, such as an early season hamstring injury for senior shooting guard Devonte Green, and an abdominal injury for sophomore point guard Rob Phinisee.
On a roster with just four scholarship guards, the injuries have created an early opportunity for Franklin, and thus far he is capitalizing, even while at times playing a somewhat unfamiliar position.
While Franklin didn’t anticipate playing point guard early on at the college level, having the position sprung on him isn’t an altogether foreign concept.
“I was thrown into playing point my junior year (of high school) at the last minute, so this is kind of like another situation for me so I was kind of ready for it,” Franklin said. “Just had to learn at a faster pace. There was more things to learn at this level, so I think I’m starting to adjust to it a little bit.”
Franklin credits junior co-captain Al Durham for helping him make the adjustments for playing point guard at the college level in Indiana’s system.
“I think the biggest person that helped was Al,” Franklin said. “Even in practice when I used to like — when I was first starting to do it I would mess up a little bit and he would just pull me to the side and show me what I can do, what my reads are.”
Franklin, who admitted to some nerves in Indiana’s season opener against Western Illinois, led the team with 27 minutes and added five rebounds to go with the eight assists. A prolific scorer in high school, Franklin had five points on a 1-for-5 shooting night from the field.
As Phinisee starts to come off of a minutes restriction as he recovers from his injury, Franklin is likely to be used more in his more natural shooting guard role. But he has proven to be plenty versatile in the process.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Portland State (1-0) at Indiana (1-0)
- Tip time: 2 p.m. EST
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: BTN Plus (subscription required, free replay on BTN at 9 p.m. EST on Nov. 11)
- Series: First meeting
- Point Spread: Indiana is a 20 point favorite in Vegas; KenPom has Indiana by 23.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
- The Vikings opened the season with a 94-69 win over Puget Sound.
- Located in Portland, Oregon, the Vikings are part of the Big Sky Conference.
- Portland State is ranked No. 278 according to KenPom.
- Indiana head coach Archie Miller and PSU head coach Barret Peery were both assistants under Herb Sendek.
Joining Franklin in a starring role in the first game was his roommate and fellow true freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Starting along with Franklin, the Greenwood, Ind. forward contributed eight points, six rebounds and four blocks on an efficient 4-for-5 night shooting from the field.
Walking onto the floor together as freshmen starters surely felt natural, as the duo have become inseparable during their early months in Bloomington.
“We’re roommates, yeah,” Jackson-Davis said. “We hang out all the time. Even off the court we’re always with each other, always going out to eat, doing stuff, playing video games together. We’ve really created a really good bond over the summer. I would say it’s gone really well so far.”
Franklin and Jackson-Davis have known each other since the seventh grade when they first played together on the AAU circuits.
That familiarity, and the bond they have developed since arriving at IU, is clear when they talk about each other.
“Trayce is goofy,” Franklin said. “He’s a big, goofy dude. Like he’ll just say some random stuff sometimes. Be looking at him like, Bro, what are you talking about?”
For Jackson-Davis, the early success was expected. Hovering near five-star status, the top 30 recruit was seen as someone that could come in and play a big role from day one, even in a crowded front court.
While Franklin and Jackson-Davis’ paths to Bloomington were different, and the expectations upon their arrival varied, it now appears that nothing can come between the only true freshmen on IU’s roster.
“We’re brothers,” Jackson-Davis said. “We love each other.”
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