Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: What happens next to Frankamp is up to him

Conner Frankamp shoots around while working before the Illinois State game. (Jan. 4, 2015)
Conner Frankamp shoots around while working before the Illinois State game. (Jan. 4, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

I hope Conner Frankamp is talking to himself today.

I hope he recognizes that his arrest early Sunday morning on suspicion of DUI is going to have consequences.

Frankamp’s arrest happened near Kellogg and Maize Road in west Wichita. His breath test, according to Wichita police Lt. James Espinoza, was more than twice the legal limit of .08.

Frankamp is 19. He recently transferred from Kansas to Wichita State to play basketball. He’s one of the best high school players in City League history and is the league’s career scoring leader. He is an amazing shooter who someday will help the Shockers.

But this is a setback.

Some Shocker fans are wary of Frankamp for various reasons. I think it’s mostly because he went to KU after his high school career at North.

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall likes to brag about the character of the players on his team. Rightly so. Marshall recruits good players and good people.

A DUI – and let’s remember that there has not been a conviction in this case – is a bad thing. Fortunately, Frankamp was not involved in an accident.

I don’t know what Marshall or Wichita State’s athletic administration will do about this. Based on a joint statement from Marshall and athletic director Eric Sexton released Monday morning, whatever happens will take place internally.

My biggest concern here is Frankamp.

He’s currently practicing with the Shockers, but won’t be eligible until December. By all accounts, he has fit in well with teammates and the Wichita State coaching staff and has played well in practices.

Frankamp doesn’t need me or you to tell him what he has been accused of is wrong. His future as a Shocker is in the hands of Marshall. I hope WSU’s coach takes a tolerant stance, one that doesn’t diminish the seriousness of Frankamp’s alleged infraction but stops short of a dismissal.

Society has done a great job of raising awareness concerning the perils of drunk driving.

Drinking often causes people to do stupid things. If Frankamp was driving while under the influence, he joins a long list of people who have made a mess because of alcohol.

That doesn’t excuse him from responsibility.

What happens now is up to Frankamp.

If he was driving under the influence, he’s made a huge mistake and likely won’t get to make a second without sacrificing his college basketball career, at least at Wichita State.

Frankamp prides himself in his work ethic and his devotion to becoming the best he can be. He’s one of the most determined athletes I’ve been around. But I have no idea how he’s going to deal with this setback. I don’t know him on that level.

Most of us are forgiving, it’s in our makeup. We generally want the best for people and gain satisfaction when those who have erred take responsibility and turn a negative into something more positive.

I know Frankamp only as a basketball player. There’s obviously more to him.

When I read the news of his DUI arrest Monday morning, I was rattled. I’ve been a strong proponent of Frankamp since I first watched him play basketball when he was a freshman at North. I’ve always espoused his greatness as a player, as if that was all that mattered.

Of course, it isn’t.

In a way, basketball becomes less important for Frankamp now. But in a way, it’s more important than ever. It’s his crutch, it’s what he needs to flourish.

Whatever Frankamp was doing Saturday night and into Sunday morning had nothing to do with basketball. He’s a 19-year-old kid who allegedly made a mistake. Hopefully, he tackles the aftermath as an opportunity to make amends with an understanding that the price for a second offense could be the game he so dearly loves.

Those who afford second chances, as I suspect Marshall will here regardless of Frankamp’s guilt or innocence, are taking a risk. Those who receive second chances are getting a gift. If Frankamp gets a second chance, it’s up to him to make sure he never needs a third.

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

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