Taj McWilliams-Franklin

Taj McWilliams-Franklin
Personal information
Born (1970-10-20) October 20, 1970
El Paso, Texas
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Listed weight 188 lb (85 kg)
Career information
High school T. W. Josey (Augusta, Georgia)
College Georgia State (1989–1990)
St. Edward's (1990–1993)
WNBA draft 1999 / Round: 3 / Pick: 32nd overall
Selected by the Orlando Miracle
Playing career 1993–2014
Position Power forward / Center
Number 8
Career history
1993–1994 Wolfenbüttel
1994–1995 Contern
1995–1996 Galilee
1996–1998 Richmond / Philadelphia Rage
1999–2002 Orlando Miracle
1999–2002 Famila Schio
2003–2006 Connecticut Sun
2003–2004 Lavezzini Parma
2004–2005 Gambrinus Brno
2005 Dandenong Rangers
2005–2006 CB Halcón Viajes
2006 Ansan Shinhan Bank S-Birds
2006–2007 Spartak Moscow Region
2007 Ansan Shinhan Bank S-Birds
2007 Los Angeles Sparks
2008 Washington Mystics
2008–2009 Detroit Shock
2008–2009 Galatasaray
2009–2010 Frisco Sika Brno
2010 New York Liberty
2011–2012 Minnesota Lynx
2011 Ros Casares
2011 Spartak Moscow Region
2012 Wisła Can-Pack Kraków
2013–2014 CAB-Clube Amigos do Basquet
Career highlights and awards
Stats at WNBA.com

Taj McWilliams-Franklin (born October 20, 1970) is a former American professional women's basketball player, and the current head coach of the women's basketball team at Post University. In the United States, she last played the power forward position for the Minnesota Lynx. In 2013, she was named as one of two assistant coaches for the New York Liberty, a team she used to play for.

Born Taj McWilliams, she married Reggie Franklin in 2003 and assumed a hyphenate surname.

A two-time WNBA champion and six-time all-star, McWilliams-Franklin's professional career has spanned three decades, and began before the WNBA was founded.[1] She retired after the 2012 season.

College years

After attending T. W. Josey High School in Augusta, Georgia, McWilliams-Franklin attended Georgia State University in 1989 and played on the school's basketball team for one season. However, she had become pregnant during her senior year in high school, and after the coach who recruited her to Georgia State was let go, the incoming staff told her "school was no place for kids." McWilliams-Franklin moved to Austin, Texas, where a friend connected her with St. Edward's University coach Dave McKey. She enrolled at St. Edwards as a Rhetoric major.

While at St. Edward's, she set school records and individual achievements, including:

McWilliams-Franklin said that after her first year at St. Edward's, she had the potential opportunity to transfer to a Division I school, but declined to pursue it, because she "felt loyalty is rewarded with loyalty."[2]

USA Basketball

McWilliams-Franklin was named to the USA national team in 1998. The national team traveled to Berlin, Germany in July and August 1998 for the FIBA World Championships. The USA team won a close opening game against Japan 95–89, then won their next six games easily. In the semifinal game against Brazil, the American team was behind by as much as ten points in the first half, but went on to win 93–79. The gold medal game was a rematch against Russia. In the first game, the American team dominated almost from the beginning, but in the rematch, the team from Russia took the early lead and led much of the way. With under two minutes remaining, the USA was down by two points, but held on to win the gold medal, 71–65.[3]

ABL career

McWilliams-Franklin was drafted in 1996 (40th overall pick) and played two seasons for the Philadelphia Rage of the American Basketball League (ABL). She led the league in blocks with 1.5 per game, and ranked fifth in field goal percentage (.528). She was also a member of the 1997 All-ABL second team.

WNBA career

McWilliams-Franklin has had a long and successful WNBA career, earning two titles and recognition as one of the all-time great post players in league history. She ranks first in career offensive rebounds and second in career total rebounds.

McWilliams-Franklin at the 2007 All-Star Game

McWilliams-Franklin was selected by the Orlando Miracle in the third round (32nd overall pick) of the 1999 WNBA Draft. She starred for the Miracle for four years and remained with the franchise even when the it relocated to Uncasville, Connecticut, and was renamed the Connecticut Sun prior to the 2003 season. From 1999 to 2008, McWilliams-Franklin played in six WNBA All-Star Games.

She was also a member of the starting team of the 2004 WNBA All-Star squad that played against a select group of players (who were also WNBA players) from the USA Basketball team. That game was held on August 4, 2004 at the historic Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The game was held in place of the regular WNBA All-Star Game and was a send-off for the USA Basketball squad prior to their participation at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

McWilliams-Franklin was the recipient of the 2005 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. She was awarded a Tiffany-designed trophy and $5,000. In addition, she designated an additional $5,000 to go to the Mary Elizabeth House in Richmond, Virginia. She was also 2nd team all WNBA in 2005.

In February 2007, she was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for the draft rights of Erika DeSouza and a future selection in the 2007 WNBA Draft.

On April 22, 2008 the Los Angeles Sparks traded McWilliams-Franklin to the Washington Mystics for Delisha Milton-Jones. On August 12, 2008 McWilliams-Franklin was traded to the Detroit Shock for Tasha Humphrey, Eshaya Murphy, and a second round pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. Following the trade, McWilliams-Franklin won her first WNBA championship with the Shock as they defeated the San Antonio Silver Stars in a 3-game sweep.

On April 22, 2010, McWilliams-Franklin signed a free agent deal with the New York Liberty.

She was targeted as a key free agent acquisition by Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve prior to the 2011 season.[4] McWilliams-Frankin played as the team's starting center throughout the season, averaging 7.0 rebounds per game and 11.6 points per game. Lynx Assistant Coach Jim Petersen credited McWilliams-Franklin with having an outsize impact on the team both on and off the court, saying, "You can talk all you want about the things she has done on the floor, but it is in the locker room, in the scouting reports, in the film sessions and just even around the airport -- she's somebody to talk to that has been there and done that. She has seen it all."

Teammate Candace Wiggins agreed, noting that the team had nicknamed her "Mama Taj," and that "she is like a coach, a big sister for us, off the court and on. She has taken us all in. We are like her little chickies and she is the mother hen."[5]

Despite her age, McWilliams-Franklin was a key contributor to the Lynx's 2011 WNBA championship. She started 33 of 34 games during the regular season, and during the playoffs led her team in points once and assists three times, the last despite playing with a knee sprain.

McWilliams-Franklin came back for the 2012 season. Her longevity and talent earned her the career record for offensive rebounds in August, passing Yolanda Griffith.[6] On October 4, 2012, McWilliams-Franklin played in her 59th postseason game, the most of any player in league history.[7]

McWilliams-Franklin retired at the end of the 2012 season, though in a 2013 interview, she said she had not completely ruled out a comeback as a player in 2014.[8]

WNBA career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game  RPG  Rebounds per game
 APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game  BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game
 TO  Turnovers per game  FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 Bold  Career high League leader

Regular season


Overseas career

McWilliams-Franklin began her playing career overseas. She played in Wolfenbuettel, Germany (1993–94); Contern, Luxembourg (1994–95); and Galilee, Israel (1995–96).

She also spent the off-season in 1999-2001 playing in a professional league in Italy for Familia Schio. After the birth of her daughter, she went to Spain to play for Puig D'En Valls, Ibiza in 2003. Next she played for Brno, Czech Republic in 2004, and Lavezzini Parma (Italy) in 2005.

In the winter of 2005, McWilliams-Franklin played in the Women's Korean Basketball League with the Ansan Shinhan Bank S-Birds, and toured Australia, matching up with Dandenong Rangers in Melbourne. After the Korean season, she went to Salamanca, Spain, where she won a title, beating Barcelona in five games. She played half a season in Spartak Region, Moscow, Russia, then returned to the Ansan Shinhan Bank S-Birds in Korea for the Women's Korean Basketball League in 2006. She won the Korean title and was MVP of the finals in 2007 Winter League, beating the Yongin Samsung Bichumi and Lauren Jackson. After having knee surgery in the 2007 offseason, she played in the winter of 2007 in Israel. In 2008, she played for Galatasaray,[9] Turkey, which won the Turkish President's Cup. In the winter of 2009, she returned to Famila Schio Beretta. She then returned to Brno for the whole season of 2009-2010.

In 2011, she played with the Spanish club Ros Casares Valencia on a short-term deal, and finished out the season with the WBC Spartak Moscow Region team that finished second in Euroleague Women. In 2012 she signed with TS Wisla Can-Pack Krakow.

In January 2014, at the age of 43, she returned to the courts to play in Portugal, with CAB Madeira.[10]


Coaching career

In May 2012, it was announced that McWilliams-Franklin would join the Rice University coaching staff as an assistant to head coach Greg Williams. She was to join the team after the conclusion of the WNBA season.[13] While there was speculation that this meant McWilliams-Franklin would retire at the end of the 2012 season, McWilliams-Franklin made no formal announcement, saying only that she was "looking forward to becoming a contributing member of [the] staff."[14]

In March 2013, after formally retiring, McWilliams-Franklin joined the New York Liberty as an assistant coach under Bill Laimbeer.

After leaving the New York Liberty in October 2013,[15] McWilliams-Franklin became an assistant coach for Boston University's Women's Basketball team in July 2014.[16]

In May 2015, she was named the head coach for Post University women's basketball.[17]


McWilliams-Franklin was born in El Paso, Texas. She has three daughters, and is married to Reginald Franklin. She lives in the San Antonio area.

McWilliams-Franklin is a vegan. In a 2008 article, she said, "I just wanted to make sure I had a healthy body because I wanted to continue playing for a longer period than most of my peers."[18]


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