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Franklin brothers ignite Villa Park in playoffs
Sunday nights are the same for the Franklins.
Kenny Franklin brings sons, Myles and Julien, to Villa Park High School from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Myles, a senior, and Julien, a sophomore, trade places along the perimeter, knocking down three-pointers across six different spots. Each has to make 10 before moving onto the next spot.
“We’re always pushing each other,” Myles said.
That’s probably why Myles is headed to play ball at Northeastern University, and Julien has secured offers from New Mexico and UNLV.
“We just work in the gym. We’re gym-rats,” Kenny said. “There’s no substitute for hard work at all. You can’t do fake publicity. The only way to be good is just being in the gym.”
The length of the Franklin brothers, both standing 6-foot-4, poses match-up problems for Spartans (21-5, 6-0) opponents.
Myles can post-up smaller point guards, yet is quick enough to get to the rim with cross-overs and drain shots from the outside. He uses his court vision to place his teammates in the right spots. Julien, who dropped 33 against Palos Verdes, can hit threes, but at the same time, can use his physicality and athleticism to rebound the ball, dribble the length of the floor and finish at the rim.
The pair, both earning All-County honors (Myles, second team, Julien, third team), sparked Villa Park to a 69-60 victory over Westlake in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2AA Championships on Feb. 17.
The Spartans faces Mission Prep at home on Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
“They definitely have a chemistry amongst themselves. No question about it,” said Kevin Reynolds, Villa Park’s coach. “They look for each other and they just kind of have a sense where the other is going to be and what the other is going to do.”
“They do a great job of pushing each other in practice,” Reynolds said. “Myles is kind of always on his brother to get going and the days that Myles needs a little kick, Juju’s always on him to pick it up.”
Kenny, who played for Carroll College in Montana and then professionally for five years overseas, is the co-director of Dream Vision, an elite AAU program that Myles and Julien play for.
He challenged his sons by having them compete against top-tier Division I and pro players, such as Josh Childress, who played for Stanford and in the NBA, and the Shipp Brothers, Joe, Josh and Jerren, who all played Pac-12 ball.
The toughest opponent? Themselves.
The two have been playing one-on-one since they were small. Games are personal. They can last days ... at least the memory of them. You fouled me! You cheated! Oftentimes, the games end in physical fights. Neither keeps a tally of wins and losses (on paper, at least), but are certain who is victorious and who is not.
“Every time he’d always try and beat me, even though he can’t,” Myles said. “He’s got a couple games on me though. But overall record? It’s me.”
Younger brother still held his own: “Around eighth grade is when I could start competing with him,” Julien said. “I started to beat him sometimes. I still do beat him now.”
Myles, averaging 18 points, 2.5 rebounds and 7 assists per game, didn’t hit his growth spurt until sophomore year, when he was promoted to varsity, morphing into a starter, someone his teammates could rely on as a calm force on the floor.
Julien started on varsity as a freshman, but focused on football as a kid. The running back racked up 13 touchdowns in seventh grade, but as he began to sprout the other kids grabbed at his knees. Deciding hoops was best for him, he dedicated himself full-time to the sport beginning in eighth grade.
Now, Julien is posting 15 points and 5.2 boards a night. “Julien’s upside is unlimited,” Reynolds said. “He’s just scratching the surface of what he’s going to be.”
Kenny aimed for his boys to be “not normal,” he said, in the best way possible. To beat the odds of earning a Division I scholarship, they would have to excel in ways different than their counterparts, he said, like not taking plays off, being coachable, mastering the details. Also, academics were key (Myles has a 3.7, Julien has a 3.9).
“You can always control how hard you play,” Kenny said. “Growing up, they always knew, if I’m pushing you to do more it’s probably because you can do more. I don’t push you unless you have more.”
Villa Park being in the playoffs has significance for the pair.
“It pushes me harder because now I really don’t want to lose, because this is going to be our last time on the court together,” Julien said of his brother.
Until the next one-on-one.