Franklin, Harris, Baker earn Hall of Fame laurels

Mississippi State's Aqua Franklin (l-r), Johnnie Harris and Maryann Baker have added Hall of Fame laurels to their resumes.

Aqua Franklin, Johnnie Harris and Maryann Baker brought championship rings with them to the Mississippi State women's basketball program, and now they are also adding hall of fame laurels to their resumes.

Harris, the Bulldogs’ associate head coach, was part of this year’s class inducted into the Watson Chapel High School Hall of Fame in Pine Bluff, Ark.

Franklin, Vic Schaefer’s assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, was inducted into the second class of the Tyler ISD Hall of Fame last Friday, while Baker was inducted into the Bishop Lynch Catholic Hall of Fame’s 2013 class.

Harris, a 1984 graduate, had a stellar career in basketball and track for Chapel. She was an all-conference selection on the hardwood her junior and senior years, and she collected all-conference and all-state accolades on the track her sophomore and junior seasons.

“I am blessed and honored to be part of this great class. To be inducted into a hall of fame at a school that has had so many great, deserving athletes is truly humbling,” Harris said. “I am thankful to coach Tommy Ballard for pushing and encouraging me and guiding my high school career. I also have to thank coach Leslie Byrd and the Hall of Fame committee for selecting me for this outstanding honor.”

Harris’ success at Chapel led to a collegiate playing career at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Arkansas Baptist, and a successful coaching stint that includes numerous conference titles and a national championship.

Harris’s coaching career took off at Arkansas-Fort Smith, where she helped lead the school to the 2004 NJCAA Final Four. Her journey allowed her to work alongside legendary coach Kay Yow at N.C. State and at Arkansas before joining Schaefer at Texas A&M.

One of the country’s top recruiters, Harris helped sign the classes that led the Aggies to four Sweet 16 appearances in her five seasons, including the program’s first national championship.

Franklin was tabbed for the Tyler ISD Hall of Fame, which included NFL Hall of Famer Earl Campbell in 2013’s inaugural class, following a standout career that took her from John Tyler High School to Texas A&M and the WNBA.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be inducted into the Tyler ISD Hall of Fame, especially since this is just the second class,” Franklin said. “There have been so many great athletes to come through Tyler, and being in the second class behind some great athletes like Earl Campbell is a blessing. I am honored that I was chosen and able to represent the city of Tyler and John Tyler High School.”

Franklin was a two-time all-district selection for John Tyler, and she earned all-state and all-East Texas her senior season after helping the Lady Lions to the regional semifinals and a 34-1 record.

The 1994 graduate earned All-East Texas Most Valuable Player honors and a spot in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Texas-Oklahoma All-Star Game in her final prep campaign.

After leading Houston Elite to an AAU championship, she went to Texas A&M and became one of the most-decorated guards in school history, rating in the top three in assists with 627.

She earned AP All-America Honorable Mention honors her junior and senior seasons while claiming All-Big 12 accolades the final three years of her collegiate career. A 2008 Big 12 All-Tournament Team selection, Franklin led the Aggies to three NCAA Tournament trips, including one journey to the Elite Eight.

Her stellar collegiate career made her the 38th pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft by the Sacramento Monarchs.

She played the 2009 season for the Seattle Storm before going on to begin a collegiate coaching career that included a Sweet 16 run at Kansas before she joined the Bulldogs.

Baker teamed with Franklin at Texas A&M following a heralded prep career that saw her rate as the 25th-best shooting guard in the country from the All-Star Girls Basketball Report. Her school’s McDonald’s All-American nominee, she was TABC Co-Player of the Year and a three-time all-state and all-district selection.

“Being inducted into the Bishop Lynch Hall of Fame was such a humbling experience. It was such an honor that the school thought enough of me to select me as part of the 2013 class,” Baker said. “I am so thankful for the education and coaching I received at Bishop Lynch because it played a vital role in helping me get to where I am today.”

The two-time TAPPS All-Star was also a BCI Nationals All-American Team selection. She led Bishop Lynch to the TAPPS state title during an all-state junior season, and she was a two-time district MVP, and the honor roll student was named the TAPPS 6A Female Athlete of the Year.

Before joining the Bulldog coaching staff, Baker enjoyed a stellar career at Texas A&M, that included four NCAA Tournament trips, including the 2011 national title. She capped her career by claiming the Big 12 Sixth Man Award.

The Bulldog coaching staff led Mississippi State to one of the best turnarounds in the country last season as the squad went 22-14 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT, the program’s first postseason appearance since 2009-10.

Schaefer’s 2014-15 squad, which opens the season Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. against Mercer in the WNIT opening round, features a Top-20 recruiting class to go along with a veteran stable of returnees.

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