Greatness, it seems, has always preceded
North (Wichita, Kan.)
standout point guard Conner Frankamp
Decades before he even stepped foot onto a basketball court wearing a red Wichita North varsity basketball jersey, Greater Wichita Athletic League greats like Greg Dreiling, Aubrey Sherrod, Antoine Carr and Darnell Valentine were all taking their turns under the lights.
Then, during his prep career, Frankamp has had to share the spotlight with Wichita Heights senior big man Perry Ellis
, who recently moved into first place on the GWAL's all-time scoring chart ahead of the former leader, Dreiling.
Frankamp, however, may end up being the best of all of them. He makes scoring 30 points look like child's play. It seems the 6-foot, 160-pound point guard can score at will and from anywhere on the floor.
He's quick and nearly unstoppable in transition and deadly accurate (50 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc, all while being double-teamed, triple-teamed and knocked around. Pick your poison and foul him? Think again. He's knocking down about 87 percent of his attempts from the free throw line this season.
"He's not a big rah rah type of player," Redskins coach Gary Squires said. "He has a lot of confidence. He knows what he has to do, and he gets it done. Conner lets his play do all of his talking for him."
Frankamp's 1,403 career points already place him fifth on the GWAL scoring chart, behind former Wichita South great Ricky Ross (1,667). Frankamp, who is averaging 24.6 points per game for his career, has already surged ahead of Carr and Valentine.
"That would be cool," MaxPreps' 59th-ranked basketball player in the class of 2013
said of climbing to the top of a league rich in talent, tradition and history. "It's a great opportunity. I'm blessed to have that opportunity. It'd be a real honor to be the top scorer in the City League."
Through two seasons and 15 games in 2011-12, Frankamp has already produced 38 20-point games and he's poured in 30 points or better on 16 different occasions. In five contests, Frankamp has ripped the cords for 40-plus points. He scored a career-high 52 points in December 2010 against Wichita Northwest.
An odds-on favorite to be selected to every 2011-12 first team all-state basketball squad in Kansas, Frankamp has produced four 40-point performances this season, on his way to a 33.7 points per game average.
But there is more to Frankamp than just filling the net with basketballs. He seems to enjoy chalking up an assist or two just as much as swishing a jump shot. Frankamp is averaging five assists, more than three rebounds and two-plus steals per outing in 2011-12. As long as the Redskins are winning, Frankamp is happy.
"He has great court awareness," said Squires. "He has no fear. Conner has great court savvy – great court sense. And if you're open, you better be ready for the ball."
Frankamp's AAU basketball coach L. J. Goolsby said his star guard makes it all look so easy. The Kansas City Pump ‘N' Run coach struggled to think of a college player or an NBA player that he could compare Frankamp to. He finally concluded…
"He's a one of a kind," Goolsby said. "It's usually pretty easy to find a player to compare these guys to. But in Conner's case there really isn't anyone. He's his own player. He's a coach's dream – a natural on the floor. Conner shoots the ball, handles the pace of the game and makes it all look effortless.
"He is so competitive. Conner wants to win real bad. If he has to, he's willing to shoulder the burden offensively, but he'll do whatever it takes to win the game. If that means getting his teammates involved then that's what he's going to do."
Since he was young, and playing the sport he loves on his Little Tykes goal, basketball has been in Frankamp's blood. He loves entertaining the crowd, and having the ball in his hands. Before he packs up and leaves the gym each night, Frankamp forces himself to make 100 shots.
While at North, Frankamp and company have been a little bit up and down in the win column, as Squires' 29-29 record over the last two and a half seasons indicates.
Frankamp guided North (10-6) on a five-game winning streak earlier this season, giving Redskin fans a taste of what North is capable of. Squires is starting Frankamp and four sophomores this season.
With all five starters returning next season, Frankamp and company are hoping for big returns, especially if the Redskins are able to make a postseason run soon. Frankamp doesn't want to wait until 2012-13 to play in his first state tournament. He wants it now.
"I definitely want to make it to state this year," Frankamp said. "I haven't experienced that yet. We're so young. We are hoping to get there this year so we know what to expect next year. I want to be holding that trophy in my hands."
Should Frankamp guide the Redskins to the state basketball tournament, the future University of Kansas Jayhawk would be poised to climb to the top of the Kansas scoring charts as well. With a little luck and two deep postseason runs, Frankamp should eventually catch Ellis and possibly surpass former Brewster great Josh Reid, who is the state's all-time scoring leader with 2,544 points.
Putting on his USA under-16 Men's National Team jersey was a special moment for Frankamp.
"I was pretty nervous as I walked into the room and heard them make that announcement," he said. "Then when I heard my name get called, I was shocked. Getting to be part of that was an amazing experience for me."
Frankamp said that he and the Redskins try to make the game of basketball as simple as possible. "We like to get out and use our speed," he said. "We try to get easy baskets by getting steals and stuff."
Although he's already committed to play basketball for Bill Self at Kansas, Frankamp said he still gets some recruiting mail. Sometimes he admits to taking a peek. But he usually just tosses the mail aside, realizing he's about to attend the school that he's always wanted to. He's going to play basketball for the Jayhawks.
"I was so nervous," Frankamp said of his first meeting with Jayhawk coach Bill Self. "I could barely sleep. He's a great guy. He's pretty laid back. I've been a KU fan my whole life. Kansas has been my dream school since I was young."