Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shooting star: Future KU guard Conner Frankamp continues rise to prep elite

Wichita North senior and Kansas University recruit Conner Frankamp is pictured on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, at Pleasant Valley Middle School in Wichita, where he works out daily with his father, Marty Frankamp. Frankamp said that although he is looked at as a shooter, he is preparing to play the point if needed for KU.

Wichita North senior and Kansas University recruit Conner Frankamp is pictured on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, at Pleasant Valley Middle School in Wichita, where he works out daily with his father, Marty Frankamp. Frankamp said that although he is looked at as a shooter, he is preparing to play the point if needed for KU.


— With the scoreboard clock running, Marty Frankamp fires a pass to his son.

“Forty seconds left,” Marty says. “No more misses.”

Conner — a senior at Wichita North High School and a Kansas University basketball commit — doesn’t say a word. He catches the pass and puts up a three from the left wing.


Just 45 minutes earlier, Conner had driven his beige Honda Civic — it now has a small silver Jayhawk on the back — a few minutes from North High to Pleasant Valley Middle School.

A couple months ago, after years of prodding from Marty, the middle school finished up its new gym, which includes dark blue paint and a fresh-gym smell to go with it.

On this Wednesday in mid-September, Conner is continuing to break in the nets. He works out nearly every day after school with his dad, who has taught P.E. classes for more than 20 years at the middle school.

The clock is down below 6 seconds now, and Marty’s final pass catches Conner in a bad spot on his hand.

Conner shakes his hand for a second — just a slightly jammed finger —and puts up his final shot from the left corner.

Nothing but net. His 11th in a row.

The 50-minute workout doesn’t stop there. It also includes ball-handling drills, where Conner weaves his way through 10 orange cones on the opposite side of the court, sometimes avoiding the obstacles despite dribbling behind his back.

It also includes stepback twos, where Conner dances like a boxer, jabbing a step in before taking two quick steps back to shoot 18-footers.

Most of these drills are to help him for the upcoming high school season, where Conner needs just 592 points — or about 28 points per game — to top current KU player Perry Ellis’ all-time City League scoring record.

Marty also is looking to the future. There’s a drill where Conner passes it to him in the post, then relocates in the corner for a three. Or the one where, at game speed, Conner catches the ball on the run, sets his feet and shoots a three (Conner makes all nine of those before Marty decides to switch to something else).

Both of those are to prepare Conner for when he’s in Lawrence — “college shots” as Marty likes to call them.

The goal is to make 400 shots per day, and though this workout is a bit shorter than normal, Marty guesses afterwards that Conner only missed about 25 shots.

Every shot was from at least 15 feet. And at least two-thirds of them were threes.

Marty says it’s about an average shooting day for his son.

“I don’t even think he’s shooting that good right now,” Marty says. “And he doesn’t, either. He just thinks he’s off just a little bit.”

Conner’s journey

Marty says Conner always was different from other kids in his love for the game.

Conner was the 3-year-old who would shoot on his Little Tikes goal for hours. And, when Marty was coaching his oldest son Kevin at AAU tournaments, Conner would be the first one on the court during breaks in the action, getting the opening shot up to the rim.

“He didn’t care about anything when he was little,” Marty says, “except for a ball.”

Conner learned to shoot with his dad in their garage, hoisting up shots on an eight-foot goal.

Playing Biddy Basketball in Wichita at age 8 — the league uses shorter hoops and slightly smaller basketballs to promote work on fundamentals — Conner was named Mr. World Biddy after leading his team to an all-star championship in Louisiana.

When he was 12, Conner also learned about work ethic from native Kansan and former Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles, who helped him for about six months while she worked as a trainer in Wichita.

Stiles, the all-time leading NCAA women’s scorer, coached Conner on which shots to take and also stressed quality over quantity when it came to shooting after she suffered through so many injuries following her career.

Marty has coached Conner’s shooting from his seventh-grade year on, helping him through the workouts that now have become a routine.

“I wouldn’t be the player I (am) without him,” Conner says. “I thank him a lot for that, because he’s always pushing me and never praises me too much and is always on me.”

All along, Marty was trying to gauge just how good his son could become.

Conner had a solid eighth-grade year playing for his dad at Pleasant Valley, but would he do just as well in the City League the next year?

Marty — also an assistant on North’s basketball team — received his answer soon enough when Conner scored 25 points in his first varsity game against perennial power Wichita Heights.

Three years later, Conner is on his way to one of the best basketball careers ever in the state of Kansas.

He broke a 33-year-old City League scoring record his sophomore year, posting 52 points in a game against Wichita Northwest.

Last year as a junior, he scored 38 points in a 47-38 road upset over Ellis and Wichita Heights, as the Falcons lost for just the second time in four years — a game Conner says he didn’t shoot well in for the first half before pouring in 27 second-half points.

Conner also has thrived in the summer.

In July, he led the United States in scoring at the U17 FIBA World Championships, putting in 14.1 points per game — including 22 in the championship game — as Team USA went 8-0 and took home the gold medal in Lithuania.

“That was the best experience of my life, I would say,” Conner says. “Just being able to put on that USA jersey and represent your country, it’s unbelievable.”

Then last month, Conner won the three-point shooting contest at the Under Armour Elite 24 Hoops Classic in Venice Beach, Calif. — an event that features 24 of the top high school players in the nation.

Two days earlier, he went against NBA players James Harden and Brandon Jennings during a midnight run game.

In that contest, he crossed over Harden once before putting in a layup, and also knocked in a three over Jennings.

“It was pretty cool,” Conner says. “It was kind of surreal to be able to be on the court with those kind of guys.”

Focused on the future

So what’s next for Conner Frankamp?

The immediate goal, he says, is to help his team to a state title after North was eliminated in the quarterfinals at State a year ago.

Still, much of Conner’s routine remains focused on his future after this year.

Earlier this month, Conner — along with his parents, Marty and Karen — hosted KU coach Bill Self for a two-and-a-half-hour in-home visit over sandwiches from Picadilly.

While there, Marty made sure to ask Self what improvements he’d like to see from Conner before he arrived at KU.

No. 1 was adding muscle.

“I’m not that strong right now, but he said I had a lot of time to get ready for that before I get to KU,” Conner says. “So that’s one thing I work on.”

After his shooting workouts, Conner meets up with Wichita trainer Ray Birch, who is in charge of his strength training and nutrition.

It’s a rare time in the year — from September until November — when the two can actually work on gaining weight with Conner not playing competitive basketball.

Right now, Conner is at about 164 pounds, with the goal to get him to about 172 before the high school season begins; Self would like to have Conner between 170 and 175 pounds when he arrives at KU next summer.

The strength also would put Conner in a better position to play either the 1 or the 2; Self told him to come in prepared to play either.

“I can play both positions. I played point for North and everything,” Conner says. “I like to pass a lot, but at North, I don’t get to do that that much. I have to score first to win. I like to distribute the ball a lot and lead the team the best I can.”

Because Conner has to have a score-first mentality for North, he believes that his passing skills sometimes go unnoticed.

He was able to impress with his passing skills during this summer’s Pangos All-America Camp, with national recruiting expert Eric Bossi saying, “His skill on the offensive end serves him equally well as a scorer or facilitator and he’s got matching athleticism.”

“The games he enjoys most are where he doesn’t have to score the most,” Marty says. “He told me this summer, he really enjoyed some of the camps he went to where he could be point guard — where he could just run the team and make shots when he was open.

“That’s probably what his role with KU is going to be, hopefully, is that he’ll score some, but he’s not going to have to be the man to shoot it all the time.”


Kansas commit Conner Frankamp, center, watches from behind the bench prior to tipoff against Missouri on Feb. 25, 2012, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Though he’s enjoying his senior year, Conner can’t help but be excited about the future.

He was there at the KU-Missouri game at Allen Fieldhouse last year, saying his ears were still ringing two days later.

After following the program his whole life — Kirk Hinrich was one of his favorite players growing up — Conner says there’s a lot to look forward to.

“Just being up there,” Conner says, “and being at the best school in the country.”

‘A hard worker’

About once a year, Conner likes to go back to watch the video that started it all: a recording of his first organized basketball game as a 5-year-old (he scored 17 points, by the way).

Conner jokes that perhaps the most noticeable thing from the video is that he had a big head.

That hasn’t seemed to follow him during his rise as a local basketball phenom.

Though his strength workout is in less than 20 minutes, he reiterates twice to a photographer that he’s doing fine on time, being sure to ask how the trip down to Wichita from Lawrence went.

Conner continues the conversation with questions about Lawrence — his home in a year — and never pulls out a cellphone, sitting on a bench with his hands folded in front of him while waiting for the lights to be put in the right place.

A couple weeks ago, Marty couldn’t help but be proud after going to parent-teacher conferences and receiving reports that his son was humble, polite and a hard worker.

“The thing that I’m most proud of him is that he’s just a good kid,” Marty says. “ ... Of course, I’m proud of him for his basketball, too. I’m really proud of him. But I’m really proud of his hard work. Nobody really realizes how hard he works.”

The photo shoot ends and Conner stands up to head to another workout, this time to get his body ready for this year and beyond.

“There’s always room to get better,” Conner says. “You’re never perfect at anything.”


offline 1 year, 6 months ago

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JamesKman13 1 year, 6 months ago

Did my post really get deleted b/c I pointed out how people compare Frankamp strictly to other white players. He has to be a mix of Hinrich and Reed when he comes in? He couldn't be a mix of Russell Robinson and Chalmers?


Tony Bandle 1 year, 6 months ago

Frankamp sitting on the bench = Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver!!!!

Frankamp on the court = Jason Voorhees of "Friday the 13th" swinging a cleaver!!!


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 6 months ago

Let's put this in the "hope" category: I hope Frankamp is for KU the kind of 'shooting savant' that Steph Curry and Keiton Page were. Recall 5'9 Page could get his shot off at will, even against several versions of a BillSelfDefense, which is saying a helluva lot, as we usually had 6'2-6'4 Self-whip-cracked-guards out there (except for 5'10 Sherron). Be nice to have a guy that can shoot like that. Regarding handles, if he can "reliably" cross-up talent like James Harden, it is a good prognosticator. Remains to be seen, though...Cant wait. His defensive play will be a KEY thing to observe.


Jocelyn Kennedy 1 year, 6 months ago

I can't possibly compete with the previous posts, so I'll just say I'm pretty sure I drooled reading the article.


soapisurfriend 1 year, 6 months ago

Oh yeah, and Jackson to ND is official.


soapisurfriend 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm not sure that the comparisons to Reed are all that off. What I do think is unfair is comparing them based on high school rankings. Reed played at tiny Burlington and Frankamp plays in the best city league in the state. Does Conner have more upside? Sure, but Reed was a solid college player. Oh how people forget (or don't know because his practice game did ever translate to a game).


Jack Wilson 1 year, 6 months ago

Excellent article, Jesse.

Ok, here's my hype machine, my comparison -- Gerry McNamara. Best I could come up with.

Now, I will return to reality. I would say that I read with interest the posts above and offer the simple suggestion -- temper your expectations. I've tried to temper mine. Frankamp will be a freshman. He probably won't start. He admittedly is not strong, and is a light 164, and likely just 6'0". It might take him just a bit to adjust to the speed of the game. His defense may not be up to par, and his lack of size makes that more of a probability. That's what I see as the most likely deterrent to immediate, big minute impact. And it may be a touch overwhelming with a 6'3" man (junior or senior) in his face when he has the ball. Sticking that shot in is much harder with a Tyshawn Taylor-esq, 22 year old man in your face.

It's not that I am not excited about this kid. I am. I see him as a four year player, top 50, perfect type of recruit. But saying "Kirk Hinrich" is a huge, huge stretch ... and a burden. I know no one is expecting Hinrich in Frankamp's freshman season. I just wouldn't ever expect it. Hinrich is a legend. But we can hope.

A nice off the bench contributor his freshmen season, 40% 3 ball. Perhaps 15-18 minutes per game. Would I take more? Sure. Will I hope for more? You bet. Will I expect more? No. Might I grumble if we don't get more? Perhaps. But it would not be justified. Compete to start his sophomore season? Sure. Lead us to a national championship his junior year? Sold.

Conner Frankamp, Ben McLemore, Andrew White, Perry Ellis and Brannen Greene .. the perfect Coach Self recruits. Selden sounds pretty perfect, too. For that matter, so does Tyler Roberson and Karviar Shepherd.

And yes .. I'll temper my expectations there. Kind of.


jaybate 1 year, 6 months ago

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 6 months ago

It's all Morningstar's fault!!!


HawkKlaw 1 year, 6 months ago

Recruiting slump be damned! Such a drought in talent at KU the past couple of years...


Sally Presson 1 year, 6 months ago

Welcome to KU Conner, can hardly wait until you get here!!! Hope we see you at Late Night Rock Chalk


William Blake 1 year, 6 months ago

I have a hard time following those who say we don't need another PG. It's a tough argument to make that PG isn't the most-important position on the floor concerning offense. There is no way UCONN captures the title in 2011 without Kemba... or even advances beyond the Sweet Sixteen. Heck... just looking back at last year; anyone really think we would have made it to the championship game without TT?

If we don't have a PG who can penetrate effectively our offense becomes predictable and often stalls. I can recall back a few years ago with Sherron running the show and when he had games where he didn't penetrate much our offense was flat; passing around the perimeter and not finding an opening to feed in low.

Can anyone claim we wouldn't be a completely different team with the explosive penetration brought by one Wayne Selden? Here is a guy who will improve the stat line of every player on the team by penetrating and drawing in the defense then feeding the open shooter or flicking it into the post. Imagine the stat line on Conner at the 2 when he gets wide open after a Selden penetration? And if they stick to Conner tight then Wayne has a one-on-one with his man.

Think about match-ups. Name a college PG anywhere in the nation that will be able to stop Wayne?

I'm on board with Oak. Putting Wayne and Conner together would be a match made in heaven!


Annette Lee 1 year, 6 months ago

Great article, Jesse! I just hope Conner has the same will to get better that Tyrel did. We were all so impressed by his ability to guard, JB said his feet were to slow for D1 but he just got better. M any of us questioned HCBS when he put Reed in the game and yet... So if Conner can get stronger and faster Wow.. PS JB made the same observation about Reed a long time ago I just used his comment as an example.


KGphoto 1 year, 6 months ago

This is a great article Jesse. I'm not sure however, why Jackie Stiles is being listed as the all time leading NCAA women's scorer.

Lynette Woodard: 3,649 points... Jackie Stiles: 3,393 points.

If you Google "All Time women's college basketball scorer" you get a link to a list 3,000 point scorers, that doesn't include Lynette Woodard. In fact Lynette Woodard isn't included on any list I could find. Anybody got a line on this?

As far as I can tell, she is the second all-time leading scorer in college basketball, men's or women's, being edged out by Pete Maravich's 3,667. She's not only the greatest scorer in NCAA women's history, she's by far the greatest overall player. What gives? Is there a loophole?


REHawk 1 year, 6 months ago

What a quality pair of recruits to come out of Wichita, Ellis and Frankamp. I really look forward to watching both of them develop under the current KU coaches and trainers. It is a joy to see topflight homestate players commit their hearts to Jayhawk sports.


TexasHawk44 1 year, 6 months ago

Jaybate, your first grade Elmo-based physics lesson equates to revealing only two more inches on your lobotomy"s jumpshot. As is typical, your stupidity reins supreme.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 6 months ago

  • Interesting page construction for the article...a space between every sentence. Very nice effect, gives emphasis to each idea.{ Jaybate, please don't follow this format.:) }

  • Marty Frankamp = total opposite of Carl Henry.

  • "You're never perfect at anything". Conner, you're wrong...that statement was PERFECT!!

  • Bill will coach the devil out of this kid now...and give him great toupee tips in about 10 years...maybe sooner!!

Wayne and Conner...could be the scariest freshmen duo in America {the Harrison twins notwithstanding]



TexasHawk44 1 year, 6 months ago

Never said he was better than Kirk as an overall player. Said he is a better shooter. And he is. Period.


Steve Yeakel 1 year, 6 months ago

What a special person and player, so glad you are a Jayhawk.


phog1004 1 year, 6 months ago

I suspect that Jaybate hasn't seen Conner play, so I will let the comments about Tyrel go. I think the bigger comparison would be with Heinrich, not Tyrel. Conner has modeled his game off of Heinrich and off of Steph Curry. Both score first type point guard's who could fill it up. He probably measures more closely to Steph at only 1 inch shorter and roughly the same weight, so he has said multiple times before that he studies tape of Curry on how he creates shots for himself, and others once double teamed (or triple teamed as happened many times in the City League games). I agree with bennybob that we don't need an additional point guard, but it might be nice to have someone like Seldon who could be interchangable with Conner at the 1 and 2 (think Mario and RussRob in '08 when they would alternate being the point depending on the game situation and opponent). That is when Self's system is at it's best, and when full court pressing KU seems like the worst move another coach could make. If not, I hope Tharpe can play that role or Anrio, as both have flashed the skill to do so....just need to become more consistent.

can't wait for the next couple of years of lights out shooting between Frankamp, Green, White, BMac, and hopefully EJ this year...


Bulkmania 1 year, 6 months ago

If you've never seen him play you can't compare him to someone. And it's quasi racist to only compare him to white players. I'm in love with this kid's game. The most apt comparison I can draw is maybe Stephen Curry with an attitude.


Ron Prichard 1 year, 6 months ago

I get excited about the new recruits every year, but without a doubt I have been more excited about Conner than anyone in a long time. He may not be the highest rated recruit in the last several years, but he just seems like that perfect point/shooting guard we have missed for a few years. I can't wait for him to become a Jayhawk!


bennybob 1 year, 6 months ago

This article explains completely why we do not need an additional point guard in this years recruiting class.

Frankamp is going to be a stud for the 3-4 years at the point. I see alot of similarities to Kirk Heinrich's game


nuleafjhawk 1 year, 6 months ago


We don't seem to be hearing any " Eminem " comments NOW.

Can't WAIT till this dude shows up in Lawrence. If we've had a weakness in the past few years, it's the lack of consistent 3 pt shooting.


Jeff Suther 1 year, 6 months ago

Player i am most optimistic for!


Kevin Studer 1 year, 6 months ago

I've seen Conner play several times. He is smaller than Reed, to be sure. However, absolutely everything else in his game is superior to Reed's; shooting, ball handling, passing, quickness, speed, foot and lateral movement, court vision...


Aligned 1 year, 6 months ago

Good job Jesse. The most impressive thing mentioned in the above story, is that barring injury, Conner will own Wichita’s all-time City League scoring record. Many great players have come out of Wichita.


april28 1 year, 6 months ago

Yep...he had lot of trouble finding a way to score for Team USA.


jaybate 1 year, 6 months ago

Conner is about 6-1 and wirey.

Tyrel was 6-3 or 6-4.

This means Conner's got to jump 2 inches higher than Tyrel to get the same shot off.

Tyrel's vertical was 40" or so?

Has anyone heard if Conner has a 42" hop?

If not, he is going to have to be a lot higher percentage shooter than Tyrel, because he is going to have to take his treys another foot farther out.

And a foot farther out drops your trifecta rate significantly.

And remember, Tyrel shot 42-46%, when healthy.

I would say don't put the Tyrel comparison on Conner's back. Tyrel was not flashy, but by his last season, had he been healthy, he was a long, strong, bouncy, aggressive 2 with a 40%+ trifectation.

Conner appears unlikely ever to be long and brawny, as Tyrel was.

We've got to hope he can work on his legs to get to 42, if he's not there yet.

And then work as relentlessly on his quickness, as he has on his shot.

His optimal future lies in modelling John Stockton, who had the greatest combination of quick's and efficiency I've seen in a short guard outside of Nate Tiny Archibald, who was probably the best short guard, pound for pound ever, only with more pastry.

If Conner lacks the quick's, then after lots of shakes and weights, Jeff Boshee come to mind.

Conner is going to have to find his own niche.


David Leathers 1 year, 6 months ago

Ellis won't OAD.

Even though he may have the potential, I think his brain supercedes an immediate jump to the league. Although, he may not stay for four years, I think you can count on at least 2 from him. Perry and Frankamp will go down as two of the best Jayhawks from Kansas to ever play the game. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if they both become Jayhawk legends.


Alohahawk 1 year, 6 months ago

I can see that the practice facility at KU will get its share of early morning, late at night workouts while Conner attends KU. It sounds like he's that mythical player who's been written about so often. You know, the one they call "Gym Rat". And with the way this article is written, KU shouldn't worry too much about the starting PG position while Frankamp is playing.

I'd bet between White and Frankamp that they'll have to replace the goals (or at least the nets), after each season. Really looking forward to watching these new faces in the Phog over the next 4-5 (I hope) years.


Michael Luby 1 year, 6 months ago

Great article Gary. Really gives a sense of who Conner is. I really hope Perry sticks around to play with Conner. Those two should become the best inside out duo in college ball.


actorman 1 year, 6 months ago

Sounds like a perfect guy to be a Jayhawk. How great is it going to be to have two top Kansas players on the team when he joins Ellis (assuming Ellis isn't a OAD)?


Jay Dogger 1 year, 6 months ago

Elite. In more ways than one.


TexasHawk44 1 year, 6 months ago

Better than either one shooting the ball. Reed not even in the same conversation. Kid is a flat out pure shooter Rock Chalk!


Todd Simpson 1 year, 6 months ago

dang do I sense a Tyrel Reed here maybe with Kirk Hinrich as well in this one


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