Isolation basketball has never been prevalent in Wichita State’s offense in Gregg Marshall’s tenure.
The Shockers were among the nation’s best last season in virtually every statistical measure except one: isolation offense. And that’s not a bad thing to be bad at.
Marshall probably takes pride in how few possessions end in one-on-one situations. In fact, per Synergy Sports, WSU’s isolation usage has trended downward for five straight seasons, with last season being the lowest in the Marshall era with the Shockers ranking 299th in the country with 4.2 percent of their possessions ending in isolation.
But having a weapon on the court that can bail out the team when a play breaks down is a valuable asset and Conner Frankamp appears to be that piece for the Shockers.
Wichita State struggled last season when it tried to go solo. The team shot a collective 35.1 percent with 0.769 points per possession (196th in the nation) on 121 isolation possessions. Compare that to the team’s overall numbers of 46.5 percent shooting and 0.993 points per possession.
Now let’s take a look at Frankamp’s numbers compared to the team average and three other players who led the team in isolation possessions: Darral Willis, Markis McDuffie, and Zach Brown.
As the chart shows, Frankamp’s production level far exceeded anyone else on the team with double-digit isolation attempts.
Since WSU has so few isolation possessions, there’s not a ton of data to pull from. But Willis (18), Frankamp (17), McDuffie (15), and Brown (15) all had a similar number of possessions end with them going one-on-one at a defender.
But on a team that generally struggled, Frankamp was elite in these situations. We know he is one of the best marksman in the country already, but where other players’ efficiency drops in those one-on-one battles, Frankamp’s efficiency sees an uptick. When the Wichita native was isolated, Frankamp made 8 of 16 shots that produced 20 points. His PPP of 1.176 ranked him in the 95th percentile in college basketball last season in isolation situations.
So what makes Frankamp so good? Let’s begin with his go-to move: the hesitation pull-up three-pointer, or as Kevin Durant prefers to call it, the “hesi pull-up jimbo.”
Frankamp is superb at bringing a hesitation dribble into a rapid-fire release, demonstrated in the clip above. Frankamp sets this move up by putting his defender in a trance with a couple of cross-over dribbles that go nowhere, but keeps the defender leaning. When he’s comfortable, Frankamp then drifts the ball to his left hand with his left foot already planted.
That’s important because it allows Frankamp to swing his right (lead leg) foot forward with the ball still in his left hand. When most defenders are expecting another dribble, Frankamp gathers and begins his shooting motion. Some defenders manage to raise a hand, but Frankamp’s release is so quick it usually doesn’t matter because the ball is gone by the time the defender’s hand blocks his vision.
I’ve slowed down the part when Frankamp turns the hesitation dribble into a shot just to show you how quickly he pulls this off and you can see that the defender each time is late on the contest.
Simply put: when Frankamp is able to step into his shot he is deadly.
And that isn’t the only way he can score. As shown in the clip above, Frankamp can knock down that same contested shot even with the ball in his right hand. And if a defender wants to try to pressure him beyond the three-point arc, then Frankamp isn’t afraid to show off his handles and create a mid-range jump shot.
Again, isolation basketball will be a small part of Wichita State’s game this season.
But there is almost sure to be a tightly-contested game where the Shockers will need to be bailed out by a great one-on-one play and Frankamp could be the one to deliver it.