Franklin, Hughes headed to Huston-Tillotson
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Danielle Franklin and Shanice Hughes played their final high school basketball game in Austin last spring. Now, the state capital will be where they play their home games.
The pair of Victoria East graduates will sign letters of intent to play at Huston-Tillotson University on Wednesday afternoon at the East campus.
"I know they're winners," said first year Rams coach Maurice Callis about the pair. "They've been winners since junior high and in order for me to have a winning program, I need winning players."
Franklin and Hughes will make it official at the East campus on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Huston-Tillotson is a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program that competes in the Red River Conference.
The east Austin campus had a record enrollment of 904 students last fall.
Franklin and Hughes had a memorable run during their senior seasons at East.
The pair helped the Titans make a run to the state tournament at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
The Titans lost in the Class 4A semifinals to Rockwall. East was a perfect 10-0 in District 30-4A.
After the successful run, Hughes said she was excited to play basketball at the next level.
"I'm really excited, it's something that I always wanted to do," Hughes said.
Last year, Hughes served as East's primary ball handler and helped set up shots for leading scorer Adelaide Wenzel and Franklin.
The five-foot-six point guard led the team with 100 assists and was second on the squad with 138 steals. She averaged three points per game.
Frankln, a five-foot-nine guard, was a multifaceted threat for the Titans.
Along with an average of 13 points per game, she led the team with 158 steals and averaged four rebounds per game.
Franklin earned both the Victoria Advocate's Defensive Player of the Year and the District 30-4A Defensive MVP awards last season.
Hughes was named to the Advocate's All-Area Girls second team and also earned second team all-district honors.
The pair will join a team coached by a Victoria High graduate who played for East assistant coach Mike Smith.
Callis said the Rams lack of height makes it necessary for Huston-Tillotson to be a defensive minded, up-and-down team next season.
He said his system and mindset are similar to the one the players were a part of under Titans head coach Yulonda Wimbish-North.
"I know they can come in and fit my system because they've been through her," Callis said.
The coach added that the tallest players on the team are power forward Jasmine Dukes and center Mariah Silva. Both are listed at five-foot-10 on the team's roster.
The Rams went 9-16 last year and finished ninth in a 12 team conference.
Hughes said meeting Callis was enough to sell her on the program.
"He's a really good coach," Hughes said. "He came to talk to us and I felt like I'd be comfortable there and I'd learn a lot from him."
Franklin admitted that familiarity will help the two next season and make the adjustment to the college game a little easier.
"I'll be a little more comfortable instead of getting to know a complete (group) of different people," Franklin said.
Franklin and Hughes are the third players from last year's East girls basketball team to sign on with an Austin-based college.
Wenzel signed a letter of intent last spring to play for St. Edwards University in south Austin.
A small Titans reunion shouldn't be that hard to manage since the Huston-Tillotson and St. Edwards campuses are only five miles apart.
"We talk about it all the time," Hughes said. "We're really excited about it."