Conner Frankamp can shoot the basketball. He won the 2013 High School 3-Point Challenge, draining 22 of his 25 attempts in the final round and was recruited by Bill Self specifically for his deadly sharpshooting ability. Many expected him to play a Conner Teahan-type role for the Kansas Jayhawks in his freshman season, but hopefully better.
But now over halfway through his freshman season, the former U-17 USA Basketball team selection has failed to meet expectations. The role that Frankamp was expected to play was swiftly filled by fellow freshman Brannen Greene, who impressed in his limited time on the court. He’s since seen his playing time increase due to his silky-smooth jumper and propensity for clutch threes, sparking several Kansas runs. At 6-foot-7, he possesses the size to be a legitimate threat in the paint as well, a trait that Frankamp lacks.
Frankamp has looked timid, at times nervous from behind the arc, shooting a paltry 28.6 percent from deep this season. It’s a concerning statistic for a kid that was regarded as possibly the best shooting prospect in his class after converting 49 percent of this 3-point attempts during his senior season. He’s seen his playing time dwindle down to … well, nothing. Frankamp hasn’t seen the court in any of the Jayhawks’ last three contests.
He’s got the potential to be a crucial piece of Kansas’ postseason run if he can pull it together, and Self needs to keep him involved in the offense one way or another. Depth-wise, this is one of the Self’s most impressive teams during his tenure in Lawrence, but the freshman’s potency from 3-point range is irreplaceable. When he gets comfortable — and it will happen — he’ll prove his “best shooter” label while becoming a key factor in the Self’s offense.
Though any spike in production seems unlikely for Frankamp this season, don’t count him out just yet. With the aforementioned depth strength, it will be difficult for the 3-point specialist to fight his way back up the pecking order. But this isn’t a fundamental issue for Frankamp; it’s simply the nerves that many freshman experience in the transition from high school to college.
Kansas teammate and fellow Wichita City League alumni Perry Ellis initially experienced similar struggles during his first season, only to make incredible strides in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments. A similar career arc from Frankamp surely isn’t an impossibility, but for him to have a chance, Self must keep him on the court.
I’m going to assume Bill has a plan in mind for the freshman, as his nine-straight conference titles would suggest he’s a bit more basketball savvy than myself. Frankamp will likely have a four-year stay in Lawrence, and his growth into the player Self envisions him becoming has to begin now. Even in a limited role, look for him to work his way back into the lineup as an x-factor just in time for postseason play.