GOSHEN — The Goshen College men’s basketball program might need to consider changing its nickname from the Maple Leafs to the Chargers.
That’s because two West Noble graduates, Takota Weigold and Trevor Franklin, signed with the Goshen program in June. Weigold announced his signing on June 5, while Franklin waited two days after Weigold to announce his decision.
“It’s great. Trevor and I have always played basketball together since third grade,” Weigold said. “I think it’s pretty neat that we get to continue that through college.”
“It’s very unique. It rarely ever happens,” Franklin added. “Takota and I really play well with each other. Our chemistry is strong.”
Franklin was West Noble’s leading scorer last season, averaging 12.7 points per game. Weigold averaged 5.2 points and 1.8 assists per game as the Chargers posted a 13-11 record in 2018-19.
Franklin was impressed by Goshen’s staff and campus when he made his first official visit to the school.
“It was very welcoming. Everyone kind of knew me already and I hadn’t even talked to anyone. The whole coaching staff was pretty cool,” Franklin said. “The whole recruiting process went smoothly. We talked over the phone a lot and met a few times. It was pretty good.”
Goshen had been recruiting Franklin on-and-off for a few years, according to Maple Leafs coach Jon Tropf. The natural athleticism of the 6-0 shooting guard is what caught Tropf’s eye the most.
“Trevor’s athleticism sticks out. I think that’s the first thing you notice; he’s a really good vertical athlete. He’s got a really natural jump shot,” Tropf said. “Trevor’s got vertical athleticism that translates to our level immediately and he’s got a natural jump shot where, if he works really hard, can be a really good two-shot player: a guy that can finish at the rim and shoot ‘3’s.’”
Tropf and the Goshen coaching staff went to a West Noble game in December to see Franklin play. Franklin had a subpar showing, but Weigold had a strong performance. This got the attention of the Maple Leaf staff, and they started recruiting Weigold immediately.
“Takota is a good floor leader. He plays with a lot of swagger. He’s got to work on some things, but what we were impressed with Takota was his desire to come to Goshen,” Tropf said. “He’s a good fit. He’s a lefty, which fits our offense well.”
Being close to home was a key factor for Weigold in choosing Goshen.
“It felt like home and it just felt like where I needed to be,” Weigold said. “I’ve always wanted to be close to home. Just being able to drive 25 minutes if I ever forget or need to grab anything is a plus.”
Franklin admitted he had preconceived thoughts about Goshen College and its proximity to Ligonier. He wasn’t sure he wanted to go to a college so close until he visited the campus.
“At first, you’re thinking, ‘Oh, it’s Goshen. Its 20 minutes away from my house. It’s just too close.’ But honestly, once you get there, you feel very welcomed,” Franklin said. “It’s a different feel.”
Weigold and Franklin are the first area kids to play for the Maple Leafs since Brad Lantz, a Fairfield graduate, played there in 2015-16. Tropf admitted getting local kids to commit to Goshen College has been a struggle.
“We want to recruit local guys. We’ve tried to, with, honestly, varying success to poor success,” Tropf said. “For whatever reason, there is sort of a stigma against Goshen from local kids. They’d rather go to other schools in this area. I think this is a place where local kids should want to come to, and hopefully Trevor and Takota can make it a little cooler to be here.”
Weigold hopes the same thing his coach hopes for.
“I’m sure coming in to this next year, we’ll help coach get those local kids to come around a little bit more,” Weigold said. “It’s a great place and I think a lot of people, after seeing Trevor and I there, will start thinking it’s a good place for them to go.”
Franklin will be living at home in Ligonier, while Weigold will live on campus. Both expect to start on the reserve team for the Maple Leafs, with hopes of making it to the full-time roster by the end of their freshman year.
“I’m a really athletic two-guard. I can shoot the ball. There are some guys that are athletic and some guys that can shoot, but there aren’t many guys that are both,” Franklin said. “That helps me tremendously.”
“My expectations are to do whatever the team needs to help them get a winning year and carry it on through the next four years,” Weigold added. “I’m excited.”
Austin Hough can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN