Basketball bids farewell to seniors

Basketball’s trio of seniors look back on their careers as Generals


Andrew Franz, ‘16, made an immediate impact his freshman year, winning the ODAC Rookie of the Year three years ago. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

Claude Miller

Graduation is a time of celebration and emotion. The warm air is full of tears and laughs, the grass seems to be greener and the birds have saved their best songs just for this moment.

For senior basketball players Jok Asiyo, Darren Douglas and Andrew Franz, their graduation from basketball at the end of month won’t be as warm. They’ll walk off the court not to the sound of birds, but to a brash buzzer and creaking wood. But the emotion and celebration will be the same.

The group of seniors came into Washington and Lee as an accomplished group of athletes. With eight high school letters between them, they arrived on campus with three state championship rings and multiple all-conference mentions.

The success didn’t end in high school. Franz has averaged 11.4 points per game over his four years to this point, while shooting 45 percent from the field over the same period. He’s reeled in 5.5 rebounds per game and dished out 3.1 assists per game, while only giving up 2.5 turnovers a game.

Douglas, a career 36.7 percent shooter, started the first 12 games of this season before injuring his foot in the middle of January. Throughout his four years, his basketball IQ has been a valuable resource for the team. While he’s had to battle injuries in multiple seasons, Douglas hasn’t let that struggle define his time spent on the basketball court.

“I wish I didn’t get injured so much, but pain is a part of being an athlete,” Douglas said. “But I don’t have any regrets.”

With a play style of lengthy finesse and enthusiasm, Asiyo provided necessary depth at forward, shooting 40.5 percent over his career. He played his statistical best as a sophomore when he clocked in 219 minutes in 22 games and totaled 46 points.

Basketball, however, is more than just individual statistics.

“It’s hard to think individually being a part of this team,” Asiyo said. “Everyone who I’ve been able to share that locker room with, I consider to be family.”

Like all things in the world, Washington and Lee basketball can’t escape change. Four years, four new rosters, four years of ever-changing opponents. But the changes seen by this group of seniors points in a hopeful direction.

“We have a closer team now than I think we did as freshman. We were close then but we spend more time together off the court now. We also do a lot more in the off season, it is not nearly as much of a free off season as it was then,” Franz said.

The changes in team chemistry and offseason work ethic give the seniors high expectations for future Gennies.

“There are so many good guys in that locker room right now, I definitely have high expectations,” Asiyo said.  “Every single freshman, sophomore, junior and senior believes in what we do and believes in each other and as long as everyone holds onto that moving forward they’ll be in a good position in the coming years.”

In the same way that flipping the tassel to the other side of the graduation cap invites a kind of joyous reflection, the final minutes of their final season have invited reflections on the many memories that four years of basketball brings.

Whether it be locker room dances or half-court game winners, the memories are fun and endless.

“I love road trips with the team and spending time on the road and in hotels with everyone. Big wins have been another great memory: [Virginia Wesleyan] freshman year, making it to the semis my sophomore year and pretty much every other win we have gotten always creates a great time in the locker room,” Franz said.

Basketball has not only been an integral part of the seniors’ college experience, but has changed their lives.

“I feel like I’ve matured as a person as much as a basketball player. I’ve realized how important it is to be a part of something bigger than yourself. I’ve learned how to win and compete, how to take criticism,” Douglas said.

These life lessons will be put to the test after college. Like the old NCAA commercials used to say, these seniors are going pro in things other than sports.

Franz has a job lined up with Deutsche Bank in which he’ll be doing investment banking in New York. Asiyo also secured a job with Deutsche Bank, focusing on bank technologies in Cary, NC.  Douglas will be doing a Venture for America fellowship.

“I will always love basketball and will miss it when it’s over, so I think the fact that I took so much from the game and had so much fun with so many different people makes it an overwhelming success,” Franz said.

Douglas, Franz and Asiyo will play in their final home game against Eastern Mennonite on Feb. 17.