A step up in competition level has suited Conner Frankamp well.
After earning first-team all-league honors in Bulgaria last season, the Wichita native and former Shocker is averaging 18 points per game in his first four games in the Greece’s top division for the Rethymno Cretan Kings.
That’s good for the third-best scoring average in the league and better than notable overseas players such as Keith Langford, a former KU standout, and Jimmer Fredette, the former BYU scoring sensation.
While Frankamp is still setting fire to the nets (he’s making 46% of his field goals and 41% of his three-pointers), his team has struggled. They lost their first four games and Frankamp is the only scorer averaging double figures.
But Frankamp is far from the only former Wichita State basketball player having success internationally. While Landry Shamet (Los Angeles Clippers) and Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors) prepare to step into the spotlight in the NBA, here is a list of former Shockers still excelling overseas:
Ron Baker (2011-16)
Baker is making the same winning plays he did for the Shockers with his first international team, CSKA Moscow, the defending EuroLeague champions. Because of an international player limit in the VTB League, Baker isn’t on the team’s roster for the domestic league and is only playing in EuroLeague games. Baker is averaging 4.7 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 14 minutes off the bench in three games. CSKA Moscow is undefeated with Baker (3-0 in EuroLeague), while just 3-2 in VTB League play. For fans who want to stay up-to-date with Baker on a game-by-game basis, good Twitter follows include @cskabasket and @EuroLeague with the team’s EuroLeague schedule posted at Eurobasket.com. The EuroLeague YouTube page also posts highlights from the games.
Darral Willis (2016-18)
After winning MVP honors and leading his team to a championship in Cyprus, Willis has moved up to Russia’s top division and continued to succeed. Willis ranks in the top-10 in the VTB United League in both points (17.3) and rebounds (7.8) and he’s doing it in less than 26 minutes per game for Nizhny Novgorod, which is off to a 3-1 start. He’s also averaging 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in three Champions League games.
Rashard Kelly (2014-18)
After a successful rookie campaign in Russia’s top league, Kelly has taken the challenge of playing in Serie A in Italy as a follow up. After finishing third in the VTB League in rebounding as a rookie, Kelly is off to another strong start to his season as a starting forward for Trento, which also has former Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft. Kelly is averaging 12.4 poitns, 5.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks in Serie A play, while also averaging 11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals in EuroCup play.
Markis McDuffie (2015-19)
He inked his first professional contract in Hungary and has become one of the team’s leading scorers off the bench in his first four games as a rookie. McDuffie is averaging 14.0 points, second-best on the team, 5.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks in 25.3 minutes for Alba Fehervar during the team’s 3-1 start.
Zach Brown (2014-18)
He led his team in scoring and finished top-10 in scoring in France’s third-tier league as a rookie. Now he’s taking a step up and playing in Cyprus in the same league where former teammate Darral Willis won MVP last season. Brown’s team, AEK Larnaca, has only played one game so far this season, so it’s too early to tell what Brown’s role will be. But he did score 15 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
Toure’ Murry (2008-12)
An injury prevented WSU fans from seeing him this summer with the Aftershocks, but he’s off to a fast start with his new team in Portugal’s top division. Through four games, Murry is averaging 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. His shooting numbers have been red-hot as well: 50% from the field and 48% on three-pointers (12 of 25).
Rauno Nurger (2014-18)
He is back in Spain’s second-tier league, where he had a strong rookie campaign. Nurger has upgraded teams to CB Breogan, which won the LEB Gold title in 2018 and was promoted to the top division last season, only to be relegated immediately. Nurger is the starting center for Breogan, which is off to a 3-1 start, while Nurger is averaging 6.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game. He is coming off his first double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds) with the club.
Joe Ragland (2010-12)
He has earned a reputation as a top scorer in EuroCup play and he’s lined up for another big season, this time with Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul in Turkey’s top division. He’s currently injured (why he was unable to play for the Aftershocks this summer) and has yet to make his debut with his new club. Ragland did average 14.8 points as the top scorer for his team last season in EuroCup play.
Cleanthony Early (2012-14)
He spent the preseason in Hungary, but has recently signed with a team in Saudi Arabia with another former NBA player in Rodney Bullock at Al Ahli Jeddah. It doesn’t appear Early has played a game with his new team yet, as stats from his team’s only two games have been difficult to find.
Malcolm Armstead (2011-13)
After injuries sidelined him last season, Armstead is back to his old ways. He’s playing in Kosovo, where he’s fourth in the league in assists (6.5) per game through five games. He’s also the second-leading scorer (14.0 points) for KB Borea Peja, which is off to a 3-2 start in Kosovo Superleague play.
Ramon Clemente (2007-09)
He is the oldest former Shocker still playing and at age 33, there’s no signs of slowing down. He was playing in Puerto Rico for most of his career, but now he’s moved to the top league in Mexico, where he has become the sixth man for Astros de Jalisco. Astros is 6-6 and Clemente is averaging 7.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game.
Gal Mekel (2006-08)
After playing in the top-tier leagues in Spain and Russia, he has landed a starting point guard role for a traditionally strong team in Italy’s top division. Mekel, 31, is averaging 12.2 points and 6.6 assists, the second-most in Serie A, in less than 25 minutes per game during Reggio Emilia’s 3-2 start to the season.
Carl Hall (2011-13)
Back in Mexico for the third straight season, he has reconnected with the team he started last season with — Laguneros. Although the team is off to a poor start, Hall is playing 19 minutes per game off the bench and averaging 5.3 points and 4.4 rebounds. Laguneros has a 1-13 record so far this season in the LNBP, the top division in Mexico.
Clevin Hannah (2008-10)
He is back for his fifth season in Spain, once again in the top-division Liga ACB. He’s the starting point guard for Andorra, which is currently in sixth place in the standings with a 3-2 record. Hannah is averaging 9.0 points and 2.8 assists in 21 minutes per game, while he is averaing 9.3 poitns and 5.3 assists in three EuroCup games so far this season.
Darius Carter (2013-15)
He will return to Germany’s top division with the same club for the fourth straight season. Although BG Goettingen is off to an 0-4 start in league play, Carter is averaging 7.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 21.8 minutes per game off the bench.
Kadeem Coleby (2012-13)
He has a good thing going with the Akita Northern Happinets in Japan’s top-division league. He’s back for his third straight season with the club as the starting center and Coleby is averaging 13.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 blocks through six games.
Bush Wamukota (2014-16)
His career has taken him to Cyprus, Nigeria, Morocco and now Tunisia. He’s found a starting role for U.S. Monastir, although statistics from the team’s first two games of the season are unavailable.
Aaron Ellis (2007-11)
He has found a new home away from home in Germany, where he has played all nine years of his professional career. The 32-year-old is back for his fifth season with FC Kaiserslautern in Germany’s fourth-tier division, where he is a starter and averaging 7.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks in 26 minutes through five games.
Others to keep an eye on
Not every international league has begun yet, so there are plenty of opportunities out there for currently unsigned players. Here is a collection of Shockers who are good bets to be playing professionally somewhere this season.
The first-division Italian team Tekele Cotton (2011-15) played for last season dissolved after declaring bankruptcy, so that’s currently left the 26-year-old without a club. Judging from the highlight video he posted on his Instagram, expect that to change soon. Cotton averaged 10.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 29 minutes per game in Italy’s top league last year.
J.T. Durley (2006-11) isn’t listed on a roster currently, but played last season in Mexico where the season doesn’t begin until late March. After playing with the Aftershocks this summer, Durley, 31, expressed interest in continuing his career.
Anton Grady (2015-16) bounced around from Spain to Iceland to Tunisia last season and it’s unclear if he has resigned with Stade Nabeulien in Tunisia’s top league.
Mantas Griskenas (2007-09) has carved out a respectable 10-year international career playing mostly in Sweden, but at age 34, may have retired as he is not listed on a roster so far. He averaged 6.8 points in 22.0 minutes for Wetterbygden in Sweden last season.
Samajae Haynes-Jones (2017-19) has yet to sign his rookie deal after auditioning for the NBA G-League over this summer. He tells The Eagle that he is currently in negotiations with overseas teams and is considering teams from Australia, Austria and the Republic of Georgia.
Chadrack Lufile (2012-14) has found a good thing back in his home country, Canada, where he played last season for three different teams. It’s unclear who Lufile is playing with this season, but Canada’s league runs from May to August.
Shaquille Morris (2013-18) averaged 16.3 points and 8.4 rebounds as a rookie in Japan’s top-tier league, but it doesn’t appear that he is playing for the same team this season. After such a strong debut, it will be interesting to see where Morris ends up to continue his professional career.
It’s unclear if Garrett Stutz (2008-12) has signed a professional contract anywhere, but it’s clear the 29-year-old, 7-footer from Kansas City still has plenty in the tank if he wanted to keep playing. Stutz averaged 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds in Japan’s second-tier league last season.