LANCASTER – Franky Teran’s first-ever team basketball game was a disaster.
It happened on a Saturday afternoon about 13 years ago at his local YMCA in Arizona. Teran, then 10 years old and armed only with blacktop basketball experience, nervously stepped on the court as a starter.
When the game clock hit triple zeros, Teran stepped off the court scoreless – and dejected.
“I was so bad,” Teran said. “When I didn’t score, I thought I was really horrible.”
Nowadays, that first YMCA game feels like a distant memory for Teran. He leads the University of Antelope Valley men’s basketball team in scoring at 18.53 points per game, which is second in the California Pacific Conference.
He also averages 3.33 made 3-pointers per game, which leads the Pioneers and is 14th among all NAIA Division II players.
Teran’s journey to stardom made a pit stop at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, where he spent three years before transferring to UAV. Teran received interest from several Division I and II schools after his freshman season, but a lack of team success during his sophomore year negatively affected his recruitment.
But when UAV’s coaches called, Teran listened. He had already wanted to make the move out to California, and was impressed that the university would essentially pay for the pursuit of his master’s degree online in business management.
“They help the student-athletes so much here,” Teran said. “So that really got me.”
While education is a top priority for Teran, his goal is to become a professional basketball player. He hopes to play in Spain, but would also relish the opportunity to play for the Mexican national team and qualify for the Olympics.
“As a Hispanic person, that means a lot to me,” Teran said, “but it would mean a lot to my family.”
Teran said if he doesn’t end up playing professional basketball, he will either go into coaching or likely move back to Arizona to start an auto body shop with his brother who works as a mechanic.
Teran’s parents approve of his aspirations to play professional basketball, and it was his father that encouraged him to try out for the Mexican national team, he said.
In addition to a career choice, basketball serves as a form of respite for Teran. He uses the game to distract himself from negativity in his own life or in the world.
“When I’m having a bad day or something, I can always just come to the gym and play basketball,” said Teran, who turned to basketball when his father got in a car accident over the summer and injured his back. “It gets my mind off the bad stuff.”
So far this season, it’s been all good stuff for Teran. He was named Cal Pac Player of the Week on Dec. 12 after a 38-point performance in a victory over Shepard.
Pioneers first-year head coach B.J. Porter said Teran is a “breath of fresh air” when it comes to his work ethic and leadership.
“He’s a joy to coach,” Porter said. “He’s self-motivated, he’s a great teammate, he’s always in the gym working hard.”
Porter said Teran has a great chance to play professionally. But even if Teran decides to take another professional avenue, Porter believes he will excel in whatever he decides to pursue.
“He’s going to work hard in whatever he does – whether it’s getting a regular job out there, whether it’s being a coach, whether it’s being a basketball player,” Porter said. “I know that if you hire Franky Teran … you’re going to get somebody who’s going to work hard, who’s going to give you everything they got and go above and beyond.”
Teran’s teammates rave about his leadership. Pioneers point guard Aragad Abramian said Teran leads by example and with positivity toward the younger players on the team.
“He sets a tone with his work ethic,” Abramian said. “He lets his peers see what he’s doing.”
Teran will graduate from UAV in September, but only has about one more month left in the Pioneers regular season. His basketball days, however, appear far from over.
“I think I can go pretty far if I just stick with it,” Teran said.