Conner Frankamp takes 300 to 400 shots a day. He's spent hundreds of hours fine-tuning his ballhandling and perimeter moves for the sole purpose of being a great scorer — a clutch basketball player. He wants the responsibility.
"I love being the go-to guy," said Frankamp, North's sophomore. "I love trying to hit the game-winning shot with my teammates relying on me."
Frankamp doesn't waste a single stroke in the gym thanks to the guidance of his father Marty. Marty was also there to make sure Conner was comfortable beating a defender off the dribble with either hand.
It was all done to give Conner (6-foot-1) a sense of confidence, always necessary to be a scorer.
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So on Tuesday night, when Frankamp scored 52 points in an 87-81 double-overtime loss to Northwest, his father wasn't amazed. He knew his son was capable of breaking the 33-year-old City League single-game scoring record. "He's kind of always had that because he feels so confident skill-wise," Marty said. "He believes that he can score anytime he wants to and he loves a challenge. He loves when he sees somebody come out and really play him hard. He has such great confidence in himself. That's what makes him hard to guard because he believes he can beat you when he looks at you."
Trailing 54-45 in the fourth quarter against Northwest, Frankamp made 7 of 9 shots and scored 17 points to force overtime. It didn't matter what defender Northwest rotated on him.
Marty Frankamp remembers the first time his son beat him one-on-one.
It happened about two years ago. Marty could see it coming. Conner was in eighth grade and had been developing into something special for a while. Marty, an All-Class 5A player for Goddard in 1981, threw all he had at Conner, but his son had gotten too good — too fast, too efficient and too confident to stop.
"You're never going to beat me again now that I've finally beaten you," Conner remembers saying to his dad.
Frankamp has always had a killer instinct on the court. Part of it comes from being a competitor. A lot of it has to do with his abilities.
Frankamp was forced to learn to be quick with his shot and even quicker with his decisions playing with older brother Kevin and older cousin. Kevin, who played basketball at North, was also competitive by nature. He didn't give Conner any special treatment even though he was five years younger. When the three played "21," Conner had to score facing double teams.
"I think that got me tough," Frankamp said. "They never took it easy on me. I never told them too, either. I always wanted them to play me as hard as they could. They were so much bigger than me back then. So I had to develop something to get around them."
As a freshman, Frankamp averaged 16 points on a North team stacked with able seniors. As a sophomore, he is the first option on offense. He is a team leader.
"Sometimes you have to step back and remember that he's only a sophomore playing with juniors and seniors," North coach Gary Squires said. "But they accept him really well. It's not difficult for him because his talent speaks for itself."
Squires said there is no animosity among other players toward Frankamp and his responsibility as the team's offensive weapon.
"We run our sets for him, and he makes our team go," Squires said. "I think they're thrilled to death that they have someone like this to play with, because they know if they are open then he's going to get it to them."
Frankamp spent the summer preparing to step up his game. It started with new personal strength and conditioning coach Roy Birch. Marty's former college basketball teammate at Coffeyville Community College in 1982 implemented a program to improve Frankamp's lower-body strength and explosiveness.
"We wanted an efficient athlete in terms of explosiveness, quickness, strength and balance," Birch said. "From what I can tell in his (29-point) game against Heights, we accomplished those things. Conner was a good athlete going into the training, but in terms of explosiveness and plyometrics, I think we made a good jump."
Plyometric training involves exercising in quick, powerful bursts using short intervals with the purpose of increasing explosiveness. Birch also employed high-intensity cardio, cross training and boxing to increase Frankamp's strength without adding bulk to his 154 pounds.
With that added lift, Frankamp has been able to get more elevation on his jumper, finish strong at the hoop and make that first step even quicker.
"He just isn't afraid of anything. He's kind of been that way all along," Marty Frankamp said. "So he has that confidence, and it all comes from the work he puts into practicing."