Conner Frankamp stayed late at Sunday’s Wichita State basketball practice. He ran a few plays with the reserves. He talked with assistant coach Greg Heiar while he watched. Teammate John Robert Simon clarified the movements on one of the plays.
Frankamp has a lot to learn and it started Sunday evening in his first practice as a Shocker in the Koch Arena practice gym.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking coming into a new environment,” he said. “The guys on the team are really welcoming, though, and made me feel really comfortable.”
Frankamp, a 6-foot, 165-pound guard, joined the Shockers after transferring from Kansas, where he played his freshman season. He will sit out the rest of this season at WSU, as a walk-on, before becoming eligible next season on Dec. 12. He will have the rest of the 2015-16 season to play, as well as the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
WSU coach Gregg Marshall will let Frankamp practice at his own pace, while he learns WSU’s system. If he isn’t comfortable running a play, he can watch. Frankamp watched a few practices before the Shockers went to Hawaii last week, so WSU’s practices aren’t totally new.
“All the competitive drills I tried to get in as much as I could and try to get myself comfortable,” Frankamp said.
Work on basics such as shooting, dribbling and defense are easier for him to join.
“He’s probably seen a lot of the drills,” Marshall said. “It’s just a matter of his comfort level, jumping in when he can. A lot of our drills are just basketball drills, where you just have to read and react and play. He hopped right in there.”
Frankamp’s biggest role for the next three months may be as scout team player. Marshall sees him playing the role of Drake guard Gary Ricks Jr., the team’s leading scorer, and other Missouri Valley Conference guards such as Evansville’s D.J. Balentine. The 11th-ranked Shockers (10-2) open MVC play at Drake on Wednesday.
“He can be those guys,” Marshall said. “Obviously, you can’t leave him open.”
Frankamp announced his decision to leave Kansas in late October. He tried to stay in shape by shooting, lifting and running, but it’s difficult when every other athlete of any skill level is in an organized practice.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve actually had a full practice, so my body was pretty worn down at the end,” he said. “I was happy to get started again.”
Marshall was thrilled to get a second shot recruiting Frankamp, the City League’s career scoring leader with 2,295 points at North. Frankamp committed to Kansas in the summer of 2011, before his junior year. Marshall was still building his program then and WSU wasn’t much of a factor.
“At that point and time, we weren’t to the point where we were able to put a lot of energy and time into recruiting sophomores,” Marshall said. “We obviously knew he could play. We had called him and been to see him play and invited him to our elite camp. It went the way we kind of thought it would — he was obviously a very big fan of (Kansas) as a youngster. It was his dream school.”
Three-plus years later, Frankamp is a Shocker, joining the list of Wichita high school greats such as Cleo Littleton, Jamie Thompson and Kelly Pete (East), Antoine Carr and Aubrey Sherrod (Heights) and North’s Joe Stevens. Marshall sees Frankamp as a player who can help at both guard positions next season.
“Everything that we can tell about him is that he just wants an opportunity to be a part of a special program and win,” Marshall said. “We know he really shoots the ball as well anyone can shoot it. He’s got to continue to develop and get stronger.”