Hard Work Paying Off For Conner Frankamp
Named as one of 14 finalists for the 2012 USA Basketball Men's U17 World Championship Team on Sunday afternoon (June 17), Conner Frankamp is one step closer to making his second USA Basketball roster in as many years.
In fact, as a member of the 2011-12 USA Basketball Men's Developmental National Team, Frankamp has participated in four training camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC), including this week's camp, mini-camps in October of 2010 and 2011 and the USA Men's U16 National Team training camp in June of 2011.
Following the U16 training camp last June, Frankamp was named to the 2011 USA U16 National Team, and he was one of 12 players that helped the USA qualify for this year's FIBA U17 World Championshp with a 5-0 record and gold medal in the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Cancun, Mexico.
"This year's competition is going to be bigger, and it would just be an honor to make it," Frankamp said of the FIBA U17 World Championship, which will be played June 29 - July 8 in Kaunas, Lithuania. "It would be another dream come true to be a part of this USA team. It's something I dream about, and it would just be a great honor."
The first step in the process is behind him, and 14 finalists reamain to compete for 12 roster spots. The team is expected to be announced by June 19.
"I feel like everybody played well and played as hard as they could, trying to do what they could to make the team," Frankamp said of the first three days of training camp.
With just two players new to USA Basketball at the start of this year's training camp, the roster included 27 who had participated in a training camp or represented their country in international competition, and for many of them, this was their fourth trip to the USOTC. Among the 14 finalists that remain, eight played together in the 2011 zone qualifier.
"It's really nice to have some chemistry among the team and know where people are going to be at on the court, just know everybody's game as well as I can," Frankamp said of his USA Basketball teammates. "Playing against the best competition in the country, you can't take a play off."
Knowing what to expect during training camp, Frankamp said he trained hard to prepare.
"I just worked hard every day before the camp. I just tried to get stronger and work on my shot, every part of my game," he said of his past few weeks. "I like to pass more than I like to shoot, but on this team, I need to be able to knock down open shots. I'm also focused on defense -- defense is a really important thing for the coaches and this team.
"I'm just trying to play my game, and hopefully they like that and I get the chance to make the team."
In 2011, Frankamp scored 8.6 points, grabbed 1.8 rebounds and dished out 3.6 assists per game, and his assist average ranked eighth overall in the eight-team tournament. The 24-second shot clock is one thing American players usually have to adjust to, and players not being able to call a timeout at all during the game is another. Coaches must request a timeout at the scorer's table, and they are only allowed on dead balls and after an opponent's made basket in the last two mintues of a game.
"(International basketball) is different," Frankamp said. "The 3-point line is further, the play is different. (You play) guys from around the world who have different styles to their game, so I think it is really interesting.
"I do feel like you have to be a smarter player. It makes you pay attention whenever the coaches do have time to talk to you and try and let everything sink in."
In 2011, the USA cruised past the competition and stood atop the podium for the second time in as many events. The USA also brought home gold from the inaugural FIBA Americas U16 Championship in 2009.
"Just holding up that gold medal at the end, it was really fun," Frankamp remembered. "It was a dream come true and an experience of a lifetime for sure."
Verbally committted to attend and play basketball at the University of Kansas in 2013-14, Frankamp tells of a very auspicious beginning to his basketball career. In his first game at the age of 5, Frankamp socred 17 points, which is a lot for any child, let alone a 5 year old in his first game.
"We have it on film," Frankamp said. "I watch it every once in a while, just to remember it. I've always loved basketball. Ever since I could walk, I've always had a ball in my hand. It's the competition and everything about it I guess."
Having played three varsity seasons at Wichita North High School in Wichita, Kan., Frankamp expects to do better than ever in his senior season. This past year, Frankamp averaged 32.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game to help his team to the state tournament quafterfinals.
"We made it to state, which was really good for us I thought. We have pretty much everybody coming back, so that's really good, and I think we actually have a chance to win state this coming year."
While he says he struggles to find the time, Frankamp also loves to golf.
"I'm pretty good," Frankamp admitted. "It's kind of frustrating when I don't play well, but it's also something to get away from basketball for a little bit, a nice reliever.
"I played one season my sophomore year, but I didn't play this year. I haven't had that much time to play. When I have free time, I play a lot."
Free time is something Frankamp has less of these days than he used to, and that's not likely to change in his senior year, or when he heads to Kansas. It's not something, however, that Frankamp shies away from.
"(Basketball) has changed a little bit for me," Frankamp said. "I've got to focus on everything I do and always work hard. Even when I'm not playing, during practice or work-outs, I'm always working hard."
That mindset will serve him well as he looks to cement his place on the 2012 USA Men's U17 World Championship Team.