Bob Lutz

Bob Lutz: Frankamp should think about becoming a Shocker

Conner Frankamp, right, played on the Koch Arena court in the Class 6A tournament with Marty Frankamp, his father, as a North High assistant.
Conner Frankamp, right, played on the Koch Arena court in the Class 6A tournament with Marty Frankamp, his father, as a North High assistant. The Wichita Eagle

Conner Frankamp made more than one three-pointer in a game two times last season as a Kansas freshman.

Twice.

In 27 games.

The 6-foot-1 Frankamp might be the best shooter I’ve ever laid my eyes on. He made three-pointers like they were layups during his high school career at North, where he became the City League’s career leading scorer.

But it never looked like Frankamp, who announced Friday he was leaving KU, was comfortable. And he played only sporadically – 10 minutes or more nine times before the NCAA Tournament.

It was in KU’s two tournament games, though, Frankamp came to life.

He made 3 of 6 shots, scored 10 points and played 25 minutes in a win over Eastern Kentucky. And in a 60-57 loss to Stanford, it was Frankamp who spearheaded a late Jayhawk rally with a flurry of three-pointers. He scored a season-high 12 in that game and 22 in the two tournament games.

Frankamp issued only a statement Friday, so it’s impossible to know everything that went into his decision to leave Kansas. But it sounds like he doesn’t think there’s a clearly-defined role for him and that he wants to be a strong contributor somewhere.

KU is, as always, loaded. Frankamp remains a weapon, but the Jayhawks already have an arsenal.

Where, oh where, will he end up?

Wichita State would be a perfect fit. Frankamp should come home to play for Gregg Marshall, a demanding coach who would get the most out of him.

I’ve heard other schools mentioned as possibilities for Frankamp, including Creighton. Everything out there now is purely speculation, hardly worth trying to muddle through. If Frankamp knows where he’s going, he’s not telling anyone.

Creighton does make sense, given how much the Bluejays and coach Greg McDermott value three-point shooters to stretch defenses.

But if the Shockers are interested in Frankamp – and why wouldn’t they be – this is the place for him.

Frankamp would blossom in Marshall’s defense-first system and he would thrive as a shooter in a complex offensive system that would include wrinkles designed to get him the ball.

It was always Frankamp’s dream to play at Kansas. But give him credit for recognizing that KU wasn’t the right place for him. It had to be a difficult decision.

Frankamp, though, was just another guy at KU. In Wichita, he’s an icon, legendary for his scoring and shooting exploits at North. And he’s not just a shooter; Frankamp is quick and savvy enough to play some point guard. At times, he was exploited defensively by faster and bigger guards in the Big 12, but he adapted as the season progressed and can be at least an average defender in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Frankamp’s best and biggest attribute is his ability to make shots. He can shoot from anywhere, misses a free throw as often as there’s an August snowstorm and has a quick release that makes trying to guard him nearly impossible.

Why he made so few shots at Kansas last season, and why his percentages (34.4 percent overall, 31.3 percent from the three-point line) were so low, will forever be mysteries.

Frankamp never acknowledged frustration he might have felt with the Jayhawks. He talked like a shooter talks, like he expected the next shot he took to hit the bottom of the net. And the one after that, and the one after that.

If there was a confidence issue, it was never discussed.

Frankamp did say in his statement that Kansas didn’t feel right. And having grown up a KU fan, he assuredly wanted it to feel right.

Frankamp will be eligible to play against in the second semester of the 2015-16 season and will have two seasons remaining after that.

He’s a basketball savant. He’s not only good at the game, he understands the game. He knows which passes to make and not make, which shots to take and which shots to pass up.

His father, Marty, is a basketball coach who has taught his son well. Conner spends hours in the gym, still. He’s never gotten complacent, never taken his abilities for granted.

Instead, he works to refine them. He think he can shoot better than he already does. He’s eager to address his weaknesses. He wants to be a complete basketball player.

That might not have ever happened at Kansas, but it can happen somewhere else. Maybe it will happen at Wichita State.

Frankamp a Shocker? Would it really be such a shock?

Reach Bob Lutz at 316-268-6597 or blutz@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @boblutz.

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