Xavier guard SiMon Franklin makes the most of her second chance

NEW ORLEANS — SiMon Franklin, Xavier University’s talented women’s basketball guard, knows plenty about disappointment and coming back stronger.

In 2010, low grades disqualified her from registering for XU’s second summer session. She appealed to the university and lost and was not readmitted until January 2011 after winning a second appeal.

“It was very humbling for me,” said Franklin, a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge and now a fifth-year senior at XU. “I thought, ‘Wow — is this really happening to me?’ ”

But look at Franklin now. She changed majors — it’s business management after many struggles in chemistry/pre-pharmacy — and has excelled.

Since XU readmitted her, Franklin has passed 78 hours with a 3.5 grade-point average. Franklin’s 3.67 GPA in 2011-12 qualifed her for the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Honor Roll.

She produced the highest GPA on her team in 2011-12 and tied for seventh among Xavier’s 73 student-athletes.

Best of all, she’s on course to receive a bachelor’s degree from Xavier on May 11.

“That’s what I respect about Monee Franklin,” XU coach Bo Browder said. “She got knocked down, but she got up fighting.”

Franklin said determination and faith were the keys to her comeback.

“I had to take ownership for what I had done,” she said. “I had to own up for it and get focused on what I’ve done and what needed to be done. All of this brought me closer to God. When I trust in Him, that is when I succeed. I am nothing without God.”

Franklin was ineligible to play for the Gold Nuggets in 2010-11 after starting her first two seasons. But last season, she picked up where she left off. Franklin led the Nuggets with 10 points per game and 74 free throws, and she was second with 70 steals. She was All-GCAC and chosen MVP of the GCAC Tournament, which Xavier won for the third consecutive year. The Gold Nuggets finished 26-9 after reaching the second round of the NAIA Division I National Championship.

Through their first 12 games this season, Franklin leads the Nuggets with 9.5 points per game. She had career highs of 25 points and nine rebounds Dec. 29 in a 66-64 loss to NAIA No. 24 Faulkner in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Montgomery, Ala.

But Franklin isn’t shooting for those numbers every game.

“I just want to be a solid player,” said Franklin, who’s closing in on 1,000 career points. “I want to be able to contribute on offense and defense. I want to be a great team player and bring energy to the floor. We have a very talented team. It could be anyone’s night (to score 25).”

Franklin is the team’s only senior and the captain.

“Monee leads by example,” Browder said. “She communicates very well, but she leads by example even better. She’s the hardest worker on the team, and that’s what you want from your captain.”

Said Franklin: “To be a team captain, you have to have great preparation and be able to communicate to a group of people. You have to be able to motivate people and create an atmosphere where people are excited to work together. I’m blessed to have this opportunity. It’s definitely great preparation for the real world. I have a very understanding boss in coach Browder, but he’s very demanding.”

After basketball season, Franklin will compete on XU’s track and field team — she was a Class 5A state champion in the 800-meter run as a 10th-grader — then enter the workforce after graduation. Eventually, she’ll pursue a master’s degree.