Marist's matchless women's forward Rachel Fitz, and Siena men's standouts forward Alexander Franklin and point guard Ronald Moore are certainly among the most-memorable players your blogger has had the pleasure of watching and writing about in recent years.
And, now, they share something else. That talented trio is set to embark on post-college professional careers.
Franklin, a 6-foot-5 forward, has signed to play in Tarragona, Spain, in that country's professional league.
Moore, a 5-10 point guard, has signed a contract with BK Casta SPU Nitra, located in Nitra in the western part of Slovokia at the foot of Zobor Mountain.
Fitz, a 6-0 forward, signed to play for Kozachka-Zalk Zaporozhye, a professional basketball organization in Ukraine.
Memorable? Fitz's place in MAAC basketball's hierarchy is well established. She is the conference's only female three-time MAAC player of the year (2008, 2009, 2010), is No. 2 in career scoring in the conference (2,447 points) and is the only player in Marist women's basketball history with more than 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds.
During her time at Marist the program ran up a 116-21 record, a winning percentage of .847. Her teams also won three NCAA tournament games and, in the 2007-08 season became the first conference team, men's or women's, to win two NCAA tournament games in the same season.
Her new team, Kozachka-Zalk Zaporozhye, competes in UPBL which is a league in EuroBasket. The team finished the regular season in fourth place last seasonand advanced to the semifinals. Kozachka-Zalk Zaprozhye’s season came to a close when it fell to eventual champion Dnipro on April 24, suffering a 79-66 defeat.
Fitz was a highly touted high school player recruited by schools that played in higher conferences than the MAAC. During this past season's MAAC tournament your blogger asked Fitz how she came to chose Marist and the response flashed the sense of humor and engaging personality that made Fitz so popular on her school's Poughkeepsie, N.Y., campus.
"I wanted to major in fashion design, and Marist was the only school recruiting me that had that program ... so, I guess coach (Brian) Giorgis got lucky," she said. "Oops ... don't tell him that I said he got lucky. Well, I guess you can tell him that if you want, since I've only got a couple more games to play for him."
Siena's Franklin leaves for Spain today (Aug. 22) to begin preseason workouts for a season that begins on Oct. 1. Franklin's Tarragona team is based about 60 miles south of Barcelona on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Servindustria plays in Adecco Gold, the second level in the Spanish League.
“I know it’s a very good league and I’m excited to get over there and play for them and help them win games,” Franklin said, in a release from Siena College.
Franklin spent the summer training and improving his strength at Impact – one of the top NBA training facilities for professional basketball players located in Las Vegas.
Your blogger remembers Franklin as the least touted of a four-person recruiting class that included Moore, Edwin Ubiles and forward Cory Magee.
But Franklin played far bigger than his 6-5 (barely) frame, improved his game annually and became arguably the most unstoppable inside force in the conference this past season.
If memory serves Franklin was not in the starting lineup early in his freshman season, but exhibited his ability immediately. His first Siena game was in a non-league contest at Stanford, a team touted as a top-10 program that year. Although Siena lost in that meeting Franklin came off the bench to score 20 points and to show he would be a force on the court even against bigger players.
How good did Franklin become? He was this past season's Player of the Year in the MAAC.
Moore is headed for Nitra, the fifth-largest city in Slovokia. It’s described as a culture rich city and it has played a key role in the country’s evolution since its settlement in the fifth century.
“I know it’s a historic city, a small city,” Moore said. “Everything is within walking distance. Temperature was one thing I was worried about, but it doesn’t get too cold or too hot there. I talked to some people who played there and they really liked it.”
Moore will be leaving for Nitra within a week.
Your blogger remembers covering a Siena game at Vermont midway through the 2005-06 season when a call came from Moore's high school coach to say that the guard had made a verbal commitment to Siena.
A call was made to Moore and the most-memorable thing the diminutive guard said during a 10-minute coversation was this: "I'm coming to Siena to win championships," he said.
"What kind of championship?" he was asked.
"I want to win a national title," he said.
National titles aren't won by mid-major level teams, but Moore was the floor general behind winning titles at his playing level. Siena won the conference's regular-season and post-season championships of the past three years becoming only the conference's second men's team to do that for three straight years and the first to win NCAA tournament games in successive seasons (2008, 2009).
And, Moore added one more "title" of sorts. He was the nation's assist leader this past season.