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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Former Kansas basketball captain Ron Franz dies at 76

Miami Floridians teammates Sam Robinson, left, and Ron Franz congratulate each other on their fashion choices. This photo ran in the program for the Floridians, a franchise in the American Basketball Association. Franz played at KU from 1965 to 1967.

Miami Floridians teammates Sam Robinson, left, and Ron Franz congratulate each other on their fashion choices. This photo ran in the program for the Floridians, a franchise in the American Basketball Association. Franz played at KU from 1965 to 1967.

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Former Kansas men’s basketball captain Ron Franz died Monday in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Kansas Athletics announced after confirming the news with Franz’s family. He was 76.

A 6-foot-7 forward from Kansas City, Kansas, Franz was a team captain during the 1966-67 season and he played in 79 games as a three-year starter during his KU career from 1964-67.

Franz was on the team for four seasons, but, in his day, freshmen were still not allowed to play with the varsity team, so he did not participate during the 1963-64 season.

The local product played for former KU coach Ted Owens and helped lead the Jayhawks to Big Eight titles during his junior and senior seasons.

For his KU career, Franz averaged 9.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. His best season came in 1966-67, when he averaged 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

In a 2001 article for Jayhawk Insider, Franz told journalist David Garfield that one of his best moments as a Jayhawk was suiting up for an old timers game played in conjunction with KU’s 100th-year anniversary of Kansas basketball on Feb. 7, 1998.

“You went out on the court, and it was like time had stood still,” Franz told Garfield. “The place (Allen Fieldhouse) was sold out. When you started to warm up, 30 years had passed but it just didn’t seem like that. The band was playing. People were cheering. You saw some of the old guys not only on the floor, but in the stands. That was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had."

After his KU career, Franz was drafted in the fourth round of the 1967 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. Rather than jumping to the NBA, he opted to play in the American Basketball Association, where he played for the Oakland Oaks for one season (1967-68), the New Orleans Buccaneers for two (1968-70), the Miami Floridians for two more (1970-72), the Memphis Tams for another (1972), and the Dallas Chaparrals for one more season (1973).

He concluded his career in Europe with the Swiss Alpines in 1975.

Following his basketball career, Franz moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he was a general contractor and home builder. He opened his own company, R.S. Franz Construction, and built homes in Tennessee, Florida and Arkansas.

He and his wife, Georgia, later retired to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where he lived until his passing.

Comments

David Kelley-Wood 2 months ago

The "fashion choices" mentioned in the photo above can be better appreciated by clicking on the photo. Never had a chance to watch him play, but Franz was a favorite based on the radio broadcasts. Am only now learning of the relatively long ABA career. Rest in peace, Ron.

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