Feb. 13, 2013
On Thursday, Jan. 24, junior guard Ataira Franklin became the 29th player in Virginia women's basketball history to score 1,000 points in her playing career. Franklin pulled up for a jumper just outside the arc on the left side of the court, with the ball swishing through the net to give her the milestone points.
"It was exciting to be able to do it at home," Franklin said, recalling the moment. "I really wanted my parents to be able to be there as well as my teammates parents and all of our fans. There were other people in the stands who had signs. I didn't know anyone else was aware of it, so it was just really exciting."
Franklin's accomplishments are hardly a secret. The preseason All-ACC selection has lived up to the heady expectations, pacing the team in scoring most of the season. The points and the accolades are nice, but that is not what drives Franklin on the court.
"I really love defense," Franklin admitted. "I feel that is not a very common trait. Everybody wants to score. Most coaches look for players who can score. When you are an All-American, you are chosen because you score a certain number of points, but I just love defense. I would rather have the game-winning stop than the game-winning shot."
Playing for a defensive-minded coach like Joanne Boyle has been a dream for Franklin, especially last season when the Cavaliers led the ACC in numerous defensive categories.
"It was great last year, because everyone was committed to playing defense," Franklin said. "That was what we were known for as a team and I love playing at the top of that defense. These last few games, we have really been picking it up and getting back to where we were last year, so that is really exciting for me."
"Exciting" was hardly the word that an eight-year-old Franklin used to describe basketball when she first started playing. Her parents, Anthony and Lakita Franklin, first met when they were both playing basketball for the University of Illinois, Chicago, and "encouraged" their daughter to play as well.
"I did not want to play," Franklin laughed. "I was a little rebellious. I used to stand at the free throw line with my arms crossed because I didn't want to be there, but I finally broke out of that."
Franklin's stance on the sport softened as she realized it went part-in-parcel with something she truly enjoyed: winning.
"I enjoy winning," she admitted. "Once I was on a team and we were winning, I started liking it. I'm a competitive person. Whatever I do, I want to be the best in it. If we were running suicides, I wanted to be first. Anything I could do just to compete and try to be the best."
Basketball isn't the only passion of the Studio Art major that got off to a rocky start.
"My emphasis is sculpture and photography, but if there were a drawing major, that is what I would do, which is weird, because when I was little and I would draw and everyone would say that I could draw, I swore I would never do anything art related," Franklin said. "But I couldn't stay away from it."
Despite her emphasis in sculpture, working with various mediums including clay, wire, wood, wax, and glass, Franklin still loves to draw, especially with charcoal.
"Charcoal is my absolute favorite in the world," Franklin said. "I'll find something online or someone will ask me to do something for them. I have a picture of President Obama that I am really proud of. I've also done Bill Cosby, Will Smith, Jackie Robinson. I am not one of those people who is really into abstract art. I would like for you to be able to tell what I am doing. I really like to make people."