PHILADELPHIA — Junior guard Jamaal Franklin leads San Diego State in scoring, rebound, assists and steals, raising questions about whether he might be considering a jump to the NBA. At least one mock draft has him pegged as a lottery pick, and almost all of them say he will be a first-round pick if he skips his senior season.
But for now, he's an Aztec focused on his team's NCAA Tournament opener against Oklahoma.
Franklin answered questions Thursday about his game and his team:
Q: When you look at the tournament, you've got Doug McDermott at Creighton, yourself at San Diego State. Can you explain what it's like to be a star at a small school?
A: “I never looked at the star (aspect) of it. I just look at playing hard and winning, and if you play good with these guys that sit next to me ... everything works out for everybody.”
You stuff the stat sheet in a lot of positive ways, but turnovers have been an issue for you. How do you try to negate some of the turnovers?
“Just play my game. If you've been watching the games lately, my turnovers have been down. There's been some games where I had six or seven, but my turnovers have been down to two at the most in the last 15 games. I've just got to make sure I play my game and play consistent and get my teammates open.”
You guys have been in the tournament four consecutive years. Where does that experience help? Where do you think it is really the most valuable?
“There's no jitters. You're not nervous. You're happy to be here, but you're not excited and overanxious. We've already been here before, so we're expecting to just play our game and just act like we're at Aztec Arena playing against a good team in Oklahoma.”
Now that you're consistently in the tournament, is the next step to start winning consistently?
“Of course it's always a thing to win. Nobody comes to the tournament expecting just to be happy to be here one game and lose. So, we are coming here trying to win games just like the best teams in this tournament, and we feel we're one of the best tournament and we can win a lot of games.”
The Sooners have blown some leads late this season. Do you feel like you're going to be in this game no matter how much they may be up or you may be up?
“I think the game is going to be good. It's an NCAA Tournament, so nobody wants to lose. I think every game in the NCAA Tournament is hard fought. But at the same time, we've been through being up 18 and we've been down 18 and came back, so we're ready for every situation.”