March 3, 2010
By Jerome Johnson
SEATTLE - Megan Franza was a small town girl with a big city game.
The native of Leavenworth, Wash., was a four-sport athlete at Cascade High School, where she set numerous records across the fields and courts. But it was her accomplishments in basketball that put her in the national spotlight, earning her Gatorade Player of the Year and AP Player of the Year awards for the state of Washington.
With a desire to stay on the west coast, she passed on Division 1 offers from schools like Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Portland and Arizona State in order to play closer to home. At first, she didn't consider Washington a top choice because the other schools were recruiting harder.
"When June and Mike (Daugherty) got the job they started calling a lot more, started writing a lot more," says Franza. "I considered it for the first time. I signed without even taking a visit and then came after I was already signed and was pretty sure that is where I wanted to be."
She was the first of six signees in the Daugherty Era at Washington. Franza made an immediate impact as a freshman (1997-98), starting all but one game. Her clutch three-point shot elevated the team to excel in national rankings and into the NCAA tournament. However, a first round loss left a bitter taste of defeat that would not go away for years to come. With a majority of the team underclassmen, Franza and teammates put in extra hours of practice and conditioning to get back into the NCAAs.
During her junior (1999-00) and senior (2000-01) years, her numbers skyrocketed. With the two leading scorers from the previous season graduated, it was up to Franza to step up and become a scorer. Franza and teammate Loree Payne led a shooting brigade that made them the "highest scoring duo on the same team in Pac-10 history, averaging 35 points per game," said Franza.
Franza held two of the top-three single game scoring marks in the conference with a high of 35 versus Idaho, which led to a Pac-10 Player of the Week award. Although the team struggled, she earned First Team All-Pac-10, CoSiDA/GTE District VIII Academic Honoree, and First Team All-Pac-10 Academic honors. Her 515 points scored that season is good for 8th on the single season scoring list, which boosted her scoring average to 17.2 points per game as the 8th junior to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau in school history.
Her senior year was nothing short of remarkable. The team won the Pac-10 championship and made a run into the Elite Eight. She tied her career high for points scored in a season with 515 and her shooting, leadership and intelligence won her more prolific awards than the year before. Not only was she a First Team All-Pac-10 performer, she was the University of Washington Athlete of the year and Big Dawg Athlete of the year.
After she was done playing at Washington, she was drafted in the fourth round of the WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury. However, after not making the team she decided to return to Washington to complete her master's degree in teaching.
Currently she is an 8th grade math teacher in Cashmere, Washington, and 13 months ago Franza became the mother of a baby boy, Mac. She has devoted most of her time to raising her son and plans to be more involved within the program in the future. She has also been involved with former teammate Melissa Erickson's charity, which is helping to raise funds in the fight against ALS.
Franza's renowned success solidifies her as a Husky legend. She ranks 6th among all freshmen for games started in a season (27) as well as 2nd in three point field goal attempts (133) and 4th in three point field goals made (33). On UW's all-time career list she ranks 2nd in three-point field goals attempted with 708 and made with 211, 9th in field goals made with 596 and field goals attempted with 1525. Finally, she is 8th on the all-time scoring list with 1612 which is the most points scored playing less than 100 games.
Many may remember Franza for wearing the old school high socks, but for her fans she will go down in history as one of the best pure shooters in Washington history.