Taj McWilliams-Franklin

Last updated
Taj McWilliams-Franklin
Taj McWilliams-Franklin 2011.jpg
Personal information
Born (1970-10-20) October 20, 1970 (age 51)
El Paso, Texas
Listed height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Listed weight188 lb (85 kg)
Career information
High school T. W. Josey (Augusta, Georgia)
WNBA draft 1999 / Round: 3 / Pick: 32nd overall
Selected by the Orlando Miracle
Playing career1993–2014
Position Power forward / Center
Number11, 3, 44, 7, 8
Career history
As player:
1996–1998 Richmond / Philadelphia Rage
19992006 Orlando Miracle / Connecticut Sun
1999–2002 Famila Schio
2003–2004Lavezzini Parma
2004–2005Gambrinus Brno
2005 Dandenong Rangers
2005–2006 CB Halcón Viajes
2006 Ansan Shinhan Bank S-Birds
2006–2007 Spartak Moscow Region
2007 Ansan Shinhan Bank S-Birds
2007 Los Angeles Sparks
2008 Washington Mystics
2008–2009 Detroit Shock
2008–2009 Galatasaray
2009–2010Frisco Sika Brno
2010 New York Liberty
20112012 Minnesota Lynx
2011Ros Casares
2011Spartak Moscow Region
2012 Wisła Can-Pack Kraków
2013–2014CAB-Clube Amigos do Basquet
As coach:
2018 Dallas Wings (Interim HC)
Career highlights and awards
Stats at WNBA.com
Women's Basketball
Representing Flag of the United States.svg United States
FIBA World Championship for Women
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1998 Germany Team Competition

Taj McWilliams-Franklin (born October 20, 1970) is a former American professional women's basketball player.


A two-time WNBA champion with the Detroit Shock and Minnesota Lynx and six-time all-star, McWilliams-Franklin's professional career has spanned three decades, and began before the WNBA was founded. [1] She retired from the WNBA after the 2012 season.

College years

After attending T. W. Josey High School in Augusta, Georgia, McWilliams-Franklin attended Georgia State University in 1989 and played on the school's basketball team for one season. However, she had become pregnant during her senior year in high school, and after the coach who recruited her to Georgia State was let go, the incoming staff told her "school was no place for kids." McWilliams-Franklin moved to Austin, Texas, where a friend connected her with St. Edward's University coach Dave McKey. She enrolled at St. Edwards as a Rhetoric major.

While at St. Edward's, she set school records and individual achievements, including:

McWilliams-Franklin said that after her first year at St. Edward's, she had the potential opportunity to transfer to a Division I school, but declined to pursue it, because she "felt loyalty is rewarded with loyalty." [2]

USA Basketball

McWilliams-Franklin was named to the USA national team in 1998. The national team traveled to Berlin, Germany, in July and August 1998 for the FIBA World Championships. The USA team won a close opening game against Japan 95–89, then won their next six games easily. In the semifinal game against Brazil, the American team was behind by as much as ten points in the first half, but went on to win 93–79. The gold medal game was a rematch against Russia. In the first game, the American team dominated almost from the beginning, but in the rematch, the team from Russia took the early lead and led much of the way. With under two minutes remaining, the USA was down by two points, but held on to win the gold medal, 71–65. [3]

ABL career

McWilliams-Franklin was drafted in 1996 (40th overall pick) and played two seasons for the Philadelphia Rage of the American Basketball League (ABL). She led the league in blocks with 1.5 per game, and ranked fifth in field goal percentage (.528). She was also a member of the 1997 All-ABL second team.

WNBA career

McWilliams-Franklin has had a long and successful WNBA career, earning two titles and recognition as one of the all-time great post players in league history. She ranks first in career offensive rebounds and second in career total rebounds.

McWilliams-Franklin at the 2007 All-Star Game Taj McWilliams-Franklin-July15-2007-All-Star-Game.jpg
McWilliams-Franklin at the 2007 All-Star Game

McWilliams-Franklin was selected by the Orlando Miracle in the third round (32nd overall pick) of the 1999 WNBA draft. She starred for the Miracle for four years and remained with the franchise even when the it relocated to Uncasville, Connecticut, and was renamed the Connecticut Sun prior to the 2003 season. From 1999 to 2008, McWilliams-Franklin played in six WNBA All-Star Games.

She was also a member of the starting team of the 2004 WNBA All-Star squad that played against a select group of players (who were also WNBA players) from the USA Basketball team. That game was held on August 4, 2004 at the historic Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The game was held in place of the regular WNBA All-Star Game and was a send-off for the USA Basketball squad prior to their participation at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

McWilliams-Franklin was the recipient of the 2005 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. She was awarded a Tiffany-designed trophy and $5,000. In addition, she designated an additional $5,000 to go to the Mary Elizabeth House in Richmond, Virginia. She was also 2nd team all WNBA in 2005.

In February 2007, she was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for the draft rights of Érika de Souza and a future selection in the 2007 WNBA Draft.

On April 22, 2008 the Los Angeles Sparks traded McWilliams-Franklin to the Washington Mystics for DeLisha Milton-Jones. On August 12, 2008 McWilliams-Franklin was traded to the Detroit Shock for Tasha Humphrey, Eshaya Murphy, and a second round pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. Following the trade, McWilliams-Franklin won her first WNBA championship with the Shock as they defeated the San Antonio Silver Stars in a 3-game sweep.

On April 22, 2010, McWilliams-Franklin signed a free agent deal with the New York Liberty.

She was targeted as a key free agent acquisition by Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve prior to the 2011 season. [4] McWilliams-Frankin played as the team's starting center throughout the season, averaging 7.0 rebounds per game and 11.6 points per game. Lynx Assistant Coach Jim Petersen credited McWilliams-Franklin with having an outsize impact on the team both on and off the court, saying, "You can talk all you want about the things she has done on the floor, but it is in the locker room, in the scouting reports, in the film sessions and just even around the airport -- she's somebody to talk to that has been there and done that. She has seen it all."

Teammate Candice Wiggins agreed, noting that the team had nicknamed her "Mama Taj", and that "she is like a coach, a big sister for us, off the court and on. She has taken us all in. We are like her little chickies and she is the mother hen." [2]

Despite her age, McWilliams-Franklin was a key contributor to the Lynx's 2011 WNBA championship. She started 33 of 34 games during the regular season, and during the playoffs led her team in points once and assists three times, the last despite playing with a knee sprain. As of 2017, she remains the oldest player in league history to win a championship.

McWilliams-Franklin came back for the 2012 season. Her longevity and talent earned her the career record for offensive rebounds in August, passing Yolanda Griffith. [5] On October 4, 2012, McWilliams-Franklin played in her 59th postseason game, the most of any player in league history. [6]

McWilliams-Franklin retired at the end of the 2012 season, though in a 2013 interview, she said she had not completely ruled out a comeback as a player in 2014. [7]

Born Taj McWilliams, she married Reggie Franklin in 2000 and assumed a hyphenate surname.

WNBA career statistics

  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game RPG  Rebounds per game
 APG  Assists per game SPG  Steals per game BPG  Blocks per game PPG Points per game
 TO  Turnovers per game FG%  Field-goal percentage 3P%  3-point field-goal percentage FT%  Free-throw percentage
 Bold Career high°League leader
Denotes seasons in which McWilliams-Franklin won a WNBA championship

Regular season

1999 Orlando 323232.6.480.444.6677.
2000 Orlando 323234.3.524.294.7137.
2001 Orlando 323233.1.474.200.7447.
2002 Orlando 131229.5.500.333.8714.
2003 Connecticut 343428.9.442.279.7456.
2004 Connecticut 343433.3.477.000.6027.
2005 Connecticut 343431.9.495.222.7877.
2006 Connecticut 323231.0.498.125.7369.
2007 Los Angeles 292729.3.490.231.7735.
2008* Washington 262633.2.525.280.7307.
2008* Detroit 7726.4.4221.000.9096.
2008 Total333331.7.506.308.7767.
2009 Detroit 343430.4.491.200.7506.
2010 New York 343429.2.511.261.8265.
2011 Minnesota 343328.4.444.222.7706.
2012 Minnesota 333326.6.519.400.7505.
Career14 years, 7 teams44043630.8.489.279.7376.


2000 Orlando 3335.7.474.000.7787.
2003 Connecticut 4430.5.511.200.9417.
2004 Connecticut 8831.5.402.500.6677.
2005 Connecticut 8835.5.511.333.7899.
2006 Connecticut 5532.6.429.000.6679.
2008 Detroit 9932.6.490.500.8647.
2009 Detroit 5526.8.6431.000.5004.
2010 New York 5530.4.447.000.7278.
2011 Minnesota 8830.3.455.000.8335.
2012 Minnesota 9927.0.379.000.6924.
Career10 years, 6 teams646431.1.465.250.7836.

Overseas career

McWilliams-Franklin began her playing career overseas. She played in Wolfenbuettel, Germany (1993–94); Contern, Luxembourg (1994–95); and Galilee, Israel (1995–96).

She also spent the off-season in 1999–2001 playing in a professional league in Italy for Familia Schio. After the birth of her daughter, she went to Spain to play for Puig D'En Valls, Ibiza in 2003. Next she played for Brno, Czech Republic in 2004, and Lavezzini Parma (Italy) in 2005.

In the winter of 2005, McWilliams-Franklin played in the Women's Korean Basketball League with the Ansan Shinhan Bank S-Birds, and toured Australia, matching up with Dandenong Rangers in Melbourne. After the Korean season, she went to Salamanca, Spain, where she won a title, beating Barcelona in five games. She played half a season in Spartak Region, Moscow, Russia, then returned to the Ansan Shinhan Bank S-Birds in Korea for the Women's Korean Basketball League in 2006. She won the Korean title and was MVP of the finals in 2007 Winter League, beating the Yongin Samsung Bichumi and Lauren Jackson. After having knee surgery in the 2007 offseason, she played in the winter of 2007 in Israel. In 2008, she played for Galatasaray, [8] Turkey, which won the Turkish President's Cup. In the winter of 2009, she returned to Famila Schio Beretta. She then returned to Brno for the whole season of 2009–2010.

In 2011, she played with the Spanish club Ros Casares Valencia on a short-term deal, and finished out the season with the WBC Spartak Moscow Region team that finished second in Euroleague Women. In 2012, she signed with Wisła Can-Pack Kraków.

In January 2014, at the age of 43, she returned to the courts to play in Portugal, with CAB Madeira. [9]


Coaching career

In May 2012, it was announced that McWilliams-Franklin would join the Rice University coaching staff as an assistant to head coach Greg Williams. She was to join the team after the conclusion of the WNBA season. [12] While there was speculation that this meant McWilliams-Franklin would retire at the end of the 2012 season, McWilliams-Franklin made no formal announcement, saying only that she was "looking forward to becoming a contributing member of [the] staff." [13]

In March 2013, after formally retiring, McWilliams-Franklin joined the New York Liberty as an assistant coach under Bill Laimbeer.

After leaving the New York Liberty in October 2013, [14] McWilliams-Franklin became an assistant coach for Boston University's Women's Basketball team in July 2014. [15]

In May 2015, she was named the head coach for Post University women's basketball. [16]

In 2017 she was hired as an assistant coach for the Dallas Wings.

On August 12, 2018, McWilliams-Franklin was named interim head coach for the Dallas Wings following the dismissal of head coach Fred Williams. [17] During the off-season, McWilliams-Franklin was not retained. Brian Agler was hired from the Los Angeles Sparks to become the team's new head coach. [18]

Head coaching record

Regular seasonGGames coachedWGames wonLGames lostW–L %Win–loss %
PlayoffsPGPlayoff gamesPWPlayoff winsPLPlayoff lossesPW–L %Playoff win–loss %
DAL 2018 312.3335th in West101.000Lost in 1st Round

Personal life

McWilliams-Franklin was born in El Paso, Texas. She has three daughters, and is married to Reginald Franklin. She lives in the San Antonio area.

McWilliams-Franklin was a vegan during some of her time as a player. In a 2008 article, she said, "I just wanted to make sure I had a healthy body because I wanted to continue playing for a longer period than most of my peers." [19]

See also

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  2. 1 2 "'Mama Taj' looks after young Lynx". Star Tribune.
  3. "Thirteenth World Championship For Women -- 1998". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  4. "Taj McWilliams-Franklin is final piece for Lynx".
  5. "Whalen leads Minnesota to OT win over San Antonio". Archived from the original on 2012-08-30.
  6. "Los Angeles vs. Minnesota - Game Recap - October 4, 2012 - ESPN". ESPN.com.
  7. "RebKell's Junkie Boards :: View topic – Liberty @ Lynx – 8/18/13". boards.rebkell.net.
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  11. ŞAMPİYON GALATASARAY | Galatasaray 71 - Fenerbahçe 55
  12. "McWilliams-Franklin will be coach at Rice". Star Tribune.
  13. "Taj McWilliams-Franklin Named Rice Assistant".
  14. "Taj McWilliams-Franklin LinkedIn Profile".
  15. "Taj McWilliams-Franklin named women's basketball assistant coach – The Daily Free Press".
  16. "Taj McWilliams-Franklin" . Retrieved 30 Oct 2015.
  17. "WNBA's Wings fire coach after spat with CEO". ESPN.com. August 13, 2018.
  18. "Brian Agler to be next coach of Dallas Wings". ESPN. Associated Press. December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  19. "Soy mac and cheese? A dietary favorite for a Mystics pair – USATODAY.com". www.usatoday.com.