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Just days after close friend Tony Snell announced that he would leave New Mexico after his junior season to enter the 2013 NBA Draft, San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin formally announced his intention to enter the 2013 NBA Draft.
The Hawthorne, Calif. native was San Diego State’s best player in each of the last two seasons, averaging 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. After winning Mountain West Player of the Year last season, Franklin was once again a first team All-Mountain West selection in 2012-13.
Franklin was the only Division I player to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists (3.3 apg) and steals (1.6 spg) this season. Franklin’s departure means that the Aztecs will need to account for the loss of four starters in their preparations for the 2013-14 season.
San Diego State already has to account for the departure of guards Chase Tapley (13.5 ppg) and James Rahon (7.0 ppg) and forward DeShawn Stephens (6.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Tapley was a four-year starter for the Aztecs and played an important role in the building of Steve Fisher’s program, as this season caps the most successful four-year stretch in the history of SDSU basketball.
“Chase Tapley was a four-year starter. He’s done a phenomenal job to help lead us to the best four-year tenure in the history of the program,” said Fisher during his season-ending press conference March 28. “James Rahon had a wonderful career and I would throw Deshawn Stephens into that mix also.
“So we’re going to have change, and with change comes excitement. With some people it becomes a nervous time, but for us it’s an excitement that we look forward to.”
Freshmen will figure prominently into San Diego State’s plans on the perimeter, with redshirt freshman Matt Shrigley having the experience of guarding Franklin in many practices to fall back on and newcomers Dakarai Allen and D’Erryl Williams both capable of earning prominent spots in the rotation (especially Allen, who is a very good perimeter defender).
Add in returnees J.J. O’Brien, Winston Shepard III, Skylar Spencer and Xavier Thames and the Aztecs won’t lack for talent (Dwayne Polee II should see more minutes as well).
But even with the optimism regarding the players due back on Montezuma Mesa, there’s no denying the fact that San Diego State will have a lot of work to do given how much production they lost with the departure of players such as Franklin and Tapley.