Franklin takes over at Warren Harding
By STEVE RUMAN
Keelyn Franklin vividly remembers an encounter he had with former Warren G. Harding High basketball coach Steve Arnold during the winter of 2007.
Franklin, who at the time was a senior guard for the Raiders, was leaving a team film session when Arnold pulled him aside to offer up a prediction.
“Coach Arnold just looked at me and said, ‘Keelyn, mark my words, you’re going to be a head coach one day.’” Franklin recalls. “I couldn’t understand what prompted him to say that, but that always stuck with me.”
On Tuesday, Arnold’s premonition became a reality when the Warren Board of Education approved the hiring of Franklin as the Harding boys varsity basketball coach.
Franklin replaces Gabe Bubon, who resigned in April following a one-year stint with the Raiders.
“This school and its basketball program gave me so many opportunities in life, it developed me both on the court and as a young man,” Franklin said. “Warren basketball had a huge impact on my life. This is a huge blessing to be able to return and be given an opportunity to hopefully have that same impact on today’s players.”
Following a stellar high school career which was capped with All-Ohio honors as a senior, Franklin played four years of college basketball at Shawnee State University. He earned degrees in Sports Studies and Special Education and Teaching.
Franklin has worked for the Warren school district since October 2014, starting as a community liaison. Currently, he is an educational assistant at McGuffey School. He has served as a freshman, junior varsity and assistant varsity coach at Warren G. Harding, and also headed the Warren Youth Basketball League that services youth basketball players in grades 4-6.
“I know Warren, I know these kids,” said the 30-year-old Franklin. “Most of the current varsity players are young men who I have closely followed since they were in grade school. I have a connection with this group.”
Franklin said his association with the youth organization taught him the importance of building a program that encompasses the entire district.
“The high school programs that don’t have the down years are the ones who build from the ground up,” Franklin said. “It’s important that we have one program from the elementary level on up that is on the same page. That’s how you succeed at the varsity level.”
Warren athletic director Bill Nicholson noted that Franklin has served as the interim coach since Bubon’s departure. Nicholson said that Franklin’s interaction with his players over the past month will assure a smooth transition.
“When Keelyn walks onto the court, these kids just light up,” Nicholson said. “They are extremely receptive. There is a strong display of respect.
“Keelyn has paid his dues at all the levels. He understands the dynamics of Warren. He has all the tools necessary to revitalize this program.”
Harding finished 12-11 this past season, including a first-round tournament loss to Cleveland John Adams.