By: Cole Shelton
Franklin Session, a guard for the Island Storm, has one of the craziest paths to professional basketball maybe anyone has ever had. Session, at 29-years-old is playing his first year of pro basketball and simply dominating. No one saw this coming, but Session is easily a top-10 player in the NBLC and is getting noticed by NBA players, and teams from around the world for what he is doing in the NBLC.
Session attended Weber State for one season, where he put up very good numbers and won Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year, as he averaged 10.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 30.6 minutes, while also shooting 44.5% from the field. At Weber State, Session played alongside Damian Lillard, as they were the dynamic duo. However, Session transferred to Cal State and finished his college career there.
After his college career, Session decided to put his basketball life behind him and didn't even try to pursue pro basketball. "That's honestly a great question," Session said in a recent phone interview of why he didn't pursue pro basketball after his college career. "I really never pictured myself as a pro basketball (player) anyway, it kind of just got myself out of my situation in LA. I was in a rough area and just kept following it to stay away from the negativity and the bad stuff going on in the area, basically, things just kept happening, and then after college things stopped happening. I didn't chase it and wasn't going to chase it. My thing was I just wanted to get a job no matter what it was and provide for my family."
Getting a job is exactly what Session did, but as he was working just an ordinary job in Los Angeles, being an everyday person. Still, not thinking of pro basketball. "I was a manager for a cellphone company, and was playing in adult basketball leagues," Session added of what he was doing before the NBLC.
While playing in adult leagues and working at a cellphone company, Session decided to play in the Drew League, where a ton of NBA players play with the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, and Paul Pierce, among a bunch of others playing in the league throughout the years. So many would think Session would barely see the court and not make an impact given all he was doing is playing in adult leagues. However, in 2016 and 2017 Session won back-to-back MVP's at the Drew League, and NBA players were trying to figure out who was this guy. And right then and there, Session got the itch to pursue pro basketball.
"That's what turned it around, that's what made me realized like holy crap, maybe I can still play," said Session of how the Drew League helped him realize he can easily play pro basketball. "That was the big change for me. I had a bunch of different NBA players come up to me, I had James Harden talk to me, he introduced me to one of his staff members on the (Houston) Rockets who came to watch one of his Drew League games. I had Baron Davis talk to me, I had Metta World Peace come talk to me, and everyone was like dude why don't you give it a shot. I was more like ahh I don't know because I just didn't know at the time. I didn't know how the competition would be, and if I felt like doing it. There is just a lot that goes into basketball that I wasn't ready to jump back into, until that summer. I just said to give it a shot."
Giving it a shot he did, as Session went for the NBA G League but ended up being the last cut from the South Bay Lakers. With that, Session, really had to start looking at other leagues, or contemplate if he even should go elsewhere. But Session, ultimately did look around and turned his attention to the NBLC. "I talked around to a bunch of people before I even decided I wanted to go to the NBLC," Session added. "There were a bunch of other teams, I had some pretty good places to play. But my thing is, I have a mortgage so the really good places to play didn't really want to pay because I didn't have any experience so they didn't know what they would be getting, which I don't fault them for. For the most part, I just had to make sure my mortgage was paid, and whatever league did that is kind of where I was going to go as long as it was a good league, and I heard this league was good, so I was like for sure."
When he decided on the NBLC, Session, still had to find a team, and that is when the Island Storm came into consideration. "I kind of just, it was back to back. I had Andre Livingston, and I was talking to him all summer and he was recommending a couple teams, and I kind of just wanted to go somewhere where I would actually play," said Session. "Especially not having a resume most people don't want to play you, so it's tough to kind of choose. I chose the Storm because they have a rebuilding process they have to go through and there are a couple guys they needed, and pieces. I felt like I was able to play the most, and get the most benefit out of my time here. I felt like it was a good place to play."
The Storm was supposed to be a rebuilding team, but with Session on the roster, he changed it dramatically as it now seems likely that the Storm will get into the playoffs. Session is arguably the best player on the Storm and one of the best players in the NBLC period. Through March 11th, Session is currently averaging 20.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in 39 minutes per game, while shooting 45.1% from the field, and 32.1% from 3. Session, has been a huge surprise for the Storm and really the whole NBLC, as he came from nowhere and is now making a huge impact.
For Session, however, many people take notice of what he is doing on the offensive end of the court, but it is the defensive end where Session makes a huge impact as well. He will always take on the other teams top players and is not shy to switch onto anyone. "I kind of pride myself on defence," said Session. "All of high-school, I only played three years of high-school, but all of high-school I kind if just played defence I wasn't really an offensive player until junior college. It was more so of that is where I kind of thrived and that is where I kind of get going at. I like guarding the best players, I like the best players going at me, it kind of gets my motor going, and it gets me ready to play. Offence is just offence, I don't really worry about that too much, my defence is what gets me going."
Offence isn't that important to him, but it is also where he has a ton of success. Session is a go-to player on the Storm and has been very clutch this year hitting some huge shots late. No one could have predicted that this 29-year-old rookie would be a go-to player for the Storm. "We have a couple go-to guys, but it is nice to be one of them," added Session of how it feels to be a go-to player on the Storm. "Our main go-to guy is Max (Du'Vaughn Maxwell) who scores a little bit easier then I do. But for the most part, it is good to be one of them, as it says a lot too because these guys have been pro for a while, and it only my first year playing pro. It is a change and something to get used to."
Session, has had a crazy year in which nobody saw coming at all, except for Session and those around him who know he can play at a high level. "To be honest, I didn't have any expectations for myself," said Session. "I just wanted to play hard, and showcase that I can play with guys who have been doing this for awhile, and show that I can actually be a top competitor in this league."
Now that Session is having some success as a pro basketball player, many people would regret the decision not to pursue it earlier. But not Session. "I don't regret it at all," added Session, if he regretted not pursuing pro basketball earlier. "I had a really good job, I actually loved my job, and we bought a home in Orange County, California. I was moving up in my job, so I actually don't regret it one bit."
Session's first year as a pro is almost done, and the experience he has gained playing in a tough league like the NBLC, will help him continue his basketball journey next season wherever that may be. But for now, Session, is glad he went to the NBLC as he seems to like playing in it. "It's a really good league," added Session. "It's tough. It's a lot tougher then I thought it would be. It's not an easy league to play in, it's a lot more physical then I'm used to. I'm used to playing NBA rules, like defensive three seconds, and NBA refs, and with them, they just don't let you get mauled by defenders. The NBLC literally has a lot of hand-checking that I'm not used to it, it's not bad adjusting, but it is a good league I like it."
Session has put his name on the map of some of the top players not in the NBA, as even NBA players and some NBA staff are noticing what he can do. For Session, as a 29-year-old rookie, he is glad to finally start his pro basketball career, although, it may have taken longer then many expected it to. But at least it has started, as the NBLC is the first stepping stone of what will be a very good pro career.