ELKHART — New Ball State University basketball coach James Whitford came to Elkhart last weekend to personally sell Franko House on sticking with his commitment to the Cardinals.
Not that it was a tough sell.
“The only way I wasn’t (going to go to Ball State) was if a new coach came in and didn’t want me,” the Concord High School standout said Thursday night, April 18.
“I still wanted to go there, and he sounded happy to get me,” House said.
Because BSU made a head coaching change after House signed last November, the three-time Elkhart Truth All-Area first-teamer had the option as an incoming freshman under NCAA guidelines of re-opening his recruitment without penalty.
Ball State hired Whitford, 41, on April 6.
He replaces Billy Taylor, who went 84-99 over six years before being fired by the school in mid-March.
Whitford spent the last four seasons as an assistant at Arizona, including the final two as associate head coach under Sean Miller.
He first became familiar with the Mid-American Conference as an assistant at Miami of Ohio, then later joined Miller at Xavier before accompanying him to Arizona.
“He had a lot to say about rebuilding and getting the excitement back on campus,” House said of his visit with Whitford. “He’s very excited about the new offense and how it’s going to be more up-tempo, and basically said it’s going to be a clean slate for everybody.”
The 6-foot-6 and powerfully built House hopes to fit in at the Muncie school either as a shooting forward or power forward, if not both.
“(Whitford) talked about how I’m really versatile, that I can make an impact on the inside and the outside,” House said.
One of two 2013 recruits signed by Taylor, along with 5-8 point guard Xavier Turner from Indianapolis Pike, House said that Turner is planning to remain with the Cardinals as well.
And not having to go through the recruiting process all over at a relatively late hour at least serves as some consolation for House not being included among the 13 Indiana All-Star selections announced last week.
“I was a little disappointed — anybody’s going to be disappointed — but I wasn’t going to let it hold me back,” House said.
“Not really,” House said of whether he was surprised. “There seems to be a lot of favoritism involved with that.”
House led the Minutemen to a 19-2 record this past season, averaging 16.4 points and 8.0 rebounds. The one game that he missed, due to illness, was also Concord’s only regular-season loss. The team’s other loss was the triple-overtime decision against Warsaw in the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional final.
House started all four years of his high school career for coach Steve Austin. He scored 1,178 points, helped the Minutemen go 69-21 and played a dominating lead role as a sophomore when Concord won the Elkhart Sectional.
House plans to study pre-pharmacy and intends to leave for Muncie in time for the start of second-session summer classes on June 17.