Last December, after one of his amazing shooting displays, Wichita North senior/future Kansas University combo guard Conner Frankamp heard himself glowingly referred to as, “The White Mamba.”
“Some reporter on the news said something about it. It kind of went on from there. Everybody picked it up from there,” said Frankamp, a deadly shooter who doesn’t mind being nicknamed after one of the world’s most venomous snakes.
“It’s all right,” he added of the moniker, “because I like Kobe (Bryant) a lot and he’s the ‘Black Mamba.’ It works out pretty well.”
If anybody in Kansas deserves a ‘Mamba’ moniker it has to be the 6-foot, 160-pound Frankamp, who, as he proved in last Wednesday’s Bill Self campers game, can strike quickly. He iced four threes in as many tries, at least two from NBA range.
“In high school they played a lot of defense on me, so they had guys on me a lot. I had to learn to shoot from farther distances,” Frankamp said Monday at Self’s camp. “I kind of adapted to that, worked on that and practiced everything, getting used to defense and everything.”
Frankamp’s work ethic showed in his high school feats.
A two-time all-state selection, who was often double teamed, Frankamp averaged 31.1 points, 3.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game his senior season for 20-3 North. He made 93 three-pointers, shot 49.2 percent from three-point range and 91.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Frankamp had 14 games of 31 or more points and five of 40 or more. The all-time leading scorer in Wichita City League history, Frankamp broke the 33-year-old city league single-game scoring mark by potting 52 points as a sophomore against Northwest. In that game, he was 18-of-38 shooting (he made eight threes and was 8-of-8 from the line).
“Probably winning the three-point contest (at 2013 Final Four) in Atlanta,” Frankamp said, asked which of his three-point displays proved most memorable. “That was pretty cool. There were some really good shooters there and everything. I felt there was good competition. I shot pretty well, so that helped.”
Frankamp hit 22 of 25 three-pointers in the final round to defeat current KU teammate Brannen Greene, UCLA’s Bryce Alford, Michigan’s Zak Irvin, Memphis’ Nick King and others at the American Family Insurance three-point championship last April.
“In a competition like that, for sure,” Frankamp said, asked if it was the most accurate he’s ever been.
Frankamp, who despite being leading scorer for USA Basketball’s Under-17 national team that won gold at the FIBA world championships two summers ago, was snubbed by the McDonald’s All-America game committee last spring. Rivals.com’s No. 34-rated player in the Class of 2013 admitted that oversight had him fired up for the competition in Atlanta on ESPN.
“That for sure motivated me a lot. I didn’t get too down on myself about it. I had to keep moving on and work harder,” he said.
His workouts with his rebounder — dad Marty — are legendary in Wichita.
“I’ve made 400 out of 410 (shots) in one workout. That was my best workout ever,” Frankamp said. “We shoot all different types of shots. That includes free throws and everything, too. I’ve had some others pretty close to that. We just (called it a) fairly good shooting day and moved on.”
Now in summer school at KU, Frankamp is working at both shooting guard and point guard as he vies for minutes his freshman season.
“For sure,” he said, asked if he can play on the ball. “I feel I’m a good passer as well. I just try to work on everything. Wherever coach needs me.”
He said he needs to work on ... “defense, lateral quickness and staying in front of quick guards. There are some quick guards in the Big 12 ... defense for sure.”
Like all freshmen, Frankamp figures to benefit from KU’s weight program, directed by Andrea Hudy.
“Last week we had a really tough workout on Monday. Today’s Monday, too. I’m kind of nervous about today. I think it’ll be all right,” Frankamp said with a smile on Monday. “I’ve had some pretty tough workouts with my trainer over the past four years (his dad’s former teammate at Coffeyville Community College, Roy Birch). The one last Monday was probably the toughest I’ve had for my entire life, actually.”
Frankamp, who is roommate of KU transfer Hunter Mickelson, said he’s been impressed with fellow members of his freshman class.
“Wayne Selden is playing really well. He’s so physically strong for such a young kid. Brannen Greene has been playing really well, too, and shooting the ball well,” Frankamp said. “Pretty much everybody has impressed me. Frank Mason is so quick, so fast. He gets to the lane pretty much whenever he wants. It’s nice having him kick it out to me and Brannen for an open shot. He’s helped a lot.”
KU coach Self is certainly happy the Jayhawks beat out Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA, Boston College, Wichita State and others for Frankamp, who committed in July of 2011.
“Hey ... the dude can make shots,” Self said. “That’s one thing we’ve got to free his mind to be able to do that. With USA Basketball, he did everything. He played on the ball, off the ball and was leading scorer on the team that had Jabari Parker (No. 4-ranked player headed to Duke) and guys like that. He’s a good scorer. Other players enjoy playing with him and I absolutely love watching him play. He’s a stud.”
Alexander visit coming: Cliff Alexander, a 6-8, 240-pound senior-to-be from Chicago’s Curie High School, will make an unofficial recruiting visit to KU on Thursday, JayhawkSlant.com reports. Kentucky and Michigan State have been believed to be leaders for the No. 5-ranked Alexander.
“No one is on top. I’m open to everybody. I’m open to all of the schools that are recruiting me,” Alexander told JayhawkSlant.com, citing a close relationship with KU assistant Jerrance Howard.