Sean Bernard offers a message for Wichita State basketball fans concerned about how Conner Frankamp will fit with the Shockers. If you are among the group that considers Frankamp a selfish player who won’t mesh with WSU’s chemistry, listen to a guy who played three seasons with him at North.
“Relax and give him a chance,” Bernard said. “He’ll do just fine. I really enjoyed playing with him.”
Frankamp is the City League’s career scoring leader who chose to transfer to Wichita State on Monday, after spending one season at Kansas. He scored 2,295 points at North and averaged 31.1 as a senior, in large part by making 49.2 percent of his three-pointers and 91.7 percent of his foul shots. He set a City League record by scoring 52 points against Northwest as a sophomore.
People know he can shoot. Apparently, other parts of his game are not well-known or appreciated by some.
“He took a lot of shots in high school, and he made a lot of them,” said Bernard, a freshman linebacker at Missouri State. “That was kind of part of it. He’s got more passing ability than people give him credit for.”
Frankamp (6-foot, 165 pounds) will start practicing with the Shockers later this month after his finals at Kansas. He is eligible to play on Dec. 12, 2015 (the day Utah comes to Intrust Bank Arena), so fans can take a year to ponder his role with next season’s team. North coach Gary Squires, a visitor to WSU practices in recent weeks, sees him fitting in because of his desire to win and his work ethic.
“He can make guys around him better,” Squires said. “He sees the floor really well. He’s so team-oriented and unselfish that he’ll fit right in.”
WSU’s reputation for putting the ball in the hands of guards and letting them go played a role in Frankamp’s choice. Squires said Frankamp liked WSU’s motion offense and one only needs look at the resumes of All-Missouri Valley Conference guards Clevin Hannah, Joe Ragland, Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet to see what players at that position can accomplish. KU’s style, heavier on the post game, may not accentuate Frankamp’s strengths. He played little as a freshman before deciding to transfer this fall.
“There’s lots of movement and lots of ways for guards to get open,” Squires said.
L.J. Goolsby, a former Shocker player, coached Frankamp for two years with KC Run GMC, a Kansas City-based summer program. He saw Frankamp in a different setting than in high school.
“He’s going to give (WSU) another guy who can make plays for others and also score in a lot of ways,” Goolsby said. “When he’s got players around him, he’s more than willing to share the basketball.”
Nobody seems to questions Frankamp’s desire to improve. He routinely practiced at North, then made 150 jumpers and worked on ball-handling drills. Then he worked with a personal trainer. Those traits helped make him a top-40 recruit and a standout on USA Basketball teams. Goolsby expects him to use the year in practice to get stronger and quicker and improve his defense. The fact two of the nation’s top defensive coaches — KU’s Bill Self and WSU’s Gregg Marshall — recruited Frankamp should be an indication he can play both ends of the court.
“Playing in practice against Fred and Ron on a consistent basis is huge,” Goolsby said.
Branches across the country — An hour before Wednesday’s game at Utah, Marshall scrolled through his smart phone to check scores. He divided his attention between his former assistants and tracking WSU’s opponents. He received mixed results — enjoying a win by Army and Tulsa’s victory over Creighton, while losses by Bowling Green and New Mexico State served as downers.
Marshall’s coaching tree grew significantly in the past nine months, with three of his former assistant coaches hired as head coaches. Marshall has four former assistants leading their own NCAA Division I programs, including Zach Spiker at Army for a sixth season.
▪ Former WSU assistant Chris Jans won his first four games at Bowling Green, including at Drake, before Wednesday’s loss at Western Kentucky. The Falcons, who played Alabama A&M on Saturday, play at Dayton on Tuesday.
The Falcons started 4-0 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, thanks to a 64-63 win at Detroit on a buzzer-beating layup.
▪ Earl Grant, a former assistant at Winthrop and Wichita State, took the top job at College of Charleston in September. He spent the previous five seasons as an assistant at Clemson.
College of Charleston is 3-4 with an eight-point loss to UConn and a nine-point loss to Texas A&M.
▪ Dana Ford, in his first season at Tennessee State, is 2-6, including an 84-67 loss to Southern Illinois. The teams play again on Dec. 16. Ford worked as a graduate assistant at Winthrop and WSU under Marshall and one season as a WSU assistant coach.
▪ Spiker, a graduate assistant at Winthrop under Marshall from 2000-02, is 6-1 at Army after Wednesday’s 73-69 win at Delware. The last Army coach to start 6-1 was Mike Krzyzewski in 1978-79.
Spiker is 74-84 at Army and his victory total ranks fourth at the academy, one ahead of Krzyzewski (73-59).
▪ Charleston Southern’s Barclay Radebaugh, an assistant at Winthrop, is 5-2 with an overtime win at Mississippi. His 2013 team played in NIT after winning the Big South’s South Division.