Heard yesterday from a reliable source that Philip Francis is going to leave UCLA after two seasons with the Bruins and will enroll at Arizona State for the next school year. I got confirmation this afternoon from UCLA men's coach Derek Freeman that indeed this is Francis' plan.
"He wants to go home and be closer to his family," said Freeman. Francis grew up in Scottsdale, Ariz., not far from ASU's Tempe campus, and was home schooled by his family while in high school.
Because of Pac-10 rules regarding transferring to another school within the conference, Francis will have to sit out the 2009-10 season, becoming eligible to play in the fall of 2010 as a redshirt junior.
Rumors swirled last summer that Francis, 20, was considering this same move after he helped the Bruins win the 2008 NCAA title during his freshman season, but the former U.S. Junior champion decided instead to stay in Los Angeles for a second year. During this past spring, however, he began to discuss with Freeman his desire to leave. (A message had been left on Francis' cell phone earlier today but as of this post Francis had not yet returned the call for comment.)
During his two years at UCLA, Francis compiled a 73.76 average in 23 tournaments, posting one top-five finish (T-3 at the NCAA Central Regional last month) and four top-10s.
"I wish him well. He helped us win a national championship," Freeman said. "I think it was a tough decision for him. He loves UCLA, loves our program and loves what we do. But at the end of the day he just wanted to be at home."
(Photo courtesy of UCLA Sports Information Department)