Between 1955 and 1970 West Fannin High School met North Whitfield High School 31 times in the sport of basketball. Many of the games were close but the game played at the tiny, matchbox-sized gym at North Whitfield on December 15, 1967 may have been the most exciting. North Whitfield took a 2-0 lead and never relinquished that lead until three seconds remained in the game. With his team behind 56-55, silky-smooth Yellow Jacket guard/forward Clarence Franklin glided across the foul line, took a pass from a teammate, leaped high into the air and launched a jump shot that nestled into the net as though drawn by a magnet to give West Fannin a thrilling and crucial 57-56 Region 7AA victory.
A lengthy resume of highlights such as the game-winning shot vs North Whitfield has earned Clarence Franklin a well-deserved place in the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.
Clarence grew up in the tiny Fannin County outpost known as the Pack Creek Community. Pack Creek kids attended Caldwell Elementary School, which is where Clarence began his competitive basketball career. His graduating class at Caldwell in 1964 consisted of 15 students. Remarkably, school Principal and Coach A.J. Heaton was able to put together a 15-member boys’ basketball team from the 6th, 7th and 8th grades that year. Fortunately for Coach Heaton, one of those players was Clarence Franklin.
Against all odds, the Caldwell boys’ basketball team won the Fannin County Elementary School championship in 1964 by defeating McCaysville, Mineral Bluff and Epworth, in that order. Clarence led the team with scoring average of 22.6 points per game.
Clarence moved on from Caldwell to West Fannin where, as a sophomore, he earned a spot on Coach Tom Foster’s 1965-66 squad. He became a starter on the 1966-67 and 1967-68 teams. West Fannin played in the class AA Georgia state tournament in each of his seasons as a member of the varsity.
At West Fannin, Clarence earned three varsity letters in basketball. He was named as the team’s Most Improved Player after his junior season and was elected the Most Valuable Player on the team as a senior in 1967-68. He was named to the Region 7AA all-tournament teams as a junior and senior.
Clarence was selected co-captain of the 1967-68 team. On a very balanced team, he averaged 14.7 points per game and was named to the Chattanooga Times all Tri-State first team as a senior, after being named to the honorable mention squad as a junior. This elite all-star squad is selected from Chattanooga-area high schools in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. He scored more than 800 points during his high school career. He worked very hard on his jumping ability and became an outstanding rebounder.
Clarence also competed in track and field at West Fannin as a junior and senior. His events were the half mile, mile and two mile runs. He finished second in the two mile run in 1968 and narrowly missed advancing to the overall region meet.
After graduating from West Fannin, Clarence was awarded a scholarship to play college basketball at North Georgia Technical School. He was a starter at North Georgia for two seasons and averaged more than 10 points per game. He studied electronics at North Georgia and moved on to Albany Junior College for one more season of collegiate basketball. Again, he was a starter and scored in double figures during his time at Albany.
Uncle Sam called and Clarence served four years in the army, completing his military obligations in 1975. He gained valuable experience in the computer science field during his military service. He also admits that he was very fortunate that he was assigned to vital US and NATO service in Europe at a time when many of his contemporaries were booking passage to the jungles of Southeast Asia.
Surviving his military obligations, Clarence used what he had learned to launch a career in the Information Technology field. He worked in the Atlanta area with Associated Grocers for seven years and for Yancey Caterpillar for 30 years before retiring in 2012.
Clarence and his wife of 40+ years, Carla, make their home in McDonough, Georgia. They have two grown children.
Clarence and Carla own 10 acres of land in Fannin County where they plan to build a home and retire in a couple of years. For now, they both stay active by walking and traveling throughout Georgia and the South. Clarence is a devoted Georgia Bulldog football fan and closely follows the hoop fortunes of the Mercer Bears.
Clarence Franklin Bio
Video at FCHS HOF Game
Clarence Franklin Banquet Video