USC Starting Point Guard Francis Killed In Louisiana

May 14, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Southern California freshman point guard Ryan Francis was shot and killed early Saturday while riding in a car in Louisiana, where he was visiting his mother.

The 19-year-old Francis was killed about 3:30 a.m. in Baton Rouge, said Tim Tessalone, USC's director of sports information.

Francis was among four passengers whose vehicle pulled up to a stoplight. The driver of another vehicle got out and opened fire, said Lt. Keith Bates of the Baton Rouge Police Department. The driver of the car Francis was in attempted to drive away but Francis, who was sitting in the back seat, was shot multiple times.

Bates said no one else in the vehicle was injured.

The shooter was identified as D'Anthony Norman Ford, police told The Advocate of Baton Rouge. Ford, 19, was arrested without incident Saturday, Bates told the newspaper, which also reported that Ford was booked on one count of first-degree murder.

Bates did not immediately return a call early Sunday seeking details of the arrest.

Francis was the starting point guard this past season for USC (17-13) and averaged more than seven points a game. He ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in assists (111) and fifth in steals (47).

Francis was a standout in high school. He scored 22 points a game at Glen Oaks High School in Baton Rouge, leading his team to a 36-0 record and the state's 4-A championship in 2004-05. Francis was named the 2005 Louisiana Class 4-A Player of the Year.

'We're all devastated,' said USC coach Tim Floyd. 'We've lost a special young man who in his short time at USC made an impression that will last forever.'

Francis' teammates were stunned when they heard of his death Saturday morning.

'He was a tough player on the court and a really cool guy off of it,' said sophomore Nick Young, the Trojans' leading scorer. 'It hurts really deep to see something like that happen. We became really close. I'm really at a loss for words. He helped me out in so many ways. Not only on the court but off it as well.'

Sophomore starter Gabe Pruitt added: 'Ryan was a really good friend, teammate and person. We really got close in the short time he was here. He will truly be missed.'

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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