When Rethymno Cretan Kings announced the signing of Conner Frankamp, those who delved into the former Kansas and Witchita State combo guard’s resume, were in for a surprise. It’s not uncommon for a player with only one year of professional experience under his belt to join the ranks of a team trying to avoid relegation in the Greek League.
The suprising part comes when someone comes across the info that Frankamp was actually one of the most celebrated High School players in the USA, in addition to having won two gold medals in FIBA Youth Tournaments with his National Team (2011 FIBA Americas Under 16 Championship and 2012 FIBA Under 17 World Championship).
His unimpressive college imprint largely prevented him from getting drafted, but at the age of 24, Frankamp may have strong reason to believe that the best is yet to come his way. After six games, he is the scoring leader in the Greek League. Furthermore, he ranks second in Performance Index Rating, fourth in fouls drawn and fifth in steals.
Rethymno, a team with a 1-5 record in the League, was eliminated by AEK Athens, who made the Greek Cup quarter-finals. In that game, Frankamp scored 11 points, his personal low while in Greece. TalkBasket.net caught up with him and the perennial Lakers (and Tiger Woods) fan talked about his career goals and the players that have had an impact on him.
Q: What’s the main focus for Rethymno Cretan Kings?
A: We have to keep improving. We left a few games slip away early in the season and hopefully we can make some more wins as the season goes on.
Q: Are you satisfied with your performances so far?
A: Yes, I think I’ve played well. Coach put me in a good position to do that and my teammates have done a great job as well. I’m enjoying it so far.
Q: Do you prefer playing at point or shooting guard?
A: I like playing point guard; getting guys involved and run the team.
Q: You have a 1+1 deal with Rethymno. How probable is to see you with the team next year?
A: We’ll see what my agent and I will come up with. Right now, I’m focused on this year.
Q: You played in the Summer League with the Lakers. Was it a dream come true for you?
A: It was really cool, yeah. Actually, I grew up a Lakers fan. I loved Kobe growing up. He was my favourite player ever. It was cool seeing LeBron work out every single day after our workout.
Q: Would you return to Las Vegas next year?
A: Yeah, I would. Hopefully, I’ll get another opportunity to do that and maybe get a chance to play more. It’s not a decision that I’ve made, though.
Q: Do you think of playing in the NBA one time?
A: That’s a dream that I still have as my ultimate goal. I think it’s something realistic for me. I keep in touch with NBA people, like Fred VanVleet who went to Wichita State, Landry Shamet, as well as many others.
Q: Who used to be your role model while growing up?
A: I like Steph Curry and Steve Nash a lot. I used to watch them often and later on I tried to adjust all of my game to what they were doing. I also love Kobe, but I’m not 6’6” and so athletic (laughs). I like everything about him: his will to win and the fact that he always took the clutch shot when the opportunity was given to him.
Q: Did you use to watch European/overseas basketball?
A: I did a little bit, as I got older. I like the style because it also suits me fine. As of now, I haven’t had any favourite teams in Europe, but when I got the chance, I like watching the games of a couple of friends who play at the EuroLeague level. Actually, I hook up on my TV and watch the EuroLeague at home. I have EuroLeague Pass. It’s really good basketball and the teams are at a high level. I feel like my game can reach that level as long as I keep improving.
Q: Were you disappointed at not getting drafted last year?
A: I didn’t have a great college career. In fact, I felt that I was held back a little bit and I wasn’t able to show what I could do. I don’t really know the reason why. That’s in the past and I’m focusing on the future.
Q: However, you did have a great High School career.
A: Yes, I did. I went to Kansas and Wichita State. Now, I’m in Greece. So, I just go with the flow and let the chips fall where they may.
Q: Would you say that you were the Jimmer Fredette of the High School game?
A: A little bit. I used to love Jimmer while growing up, actually. I watched his games a lot. He was an amazing player and now he’s having an amazing career in Europe too. It’s good for him.
Q: Since we’re talking about a scorer, how hard is it to score in Europe?
A: I had a really good defender guarding me in our game vs AEK Athens (Howard Sant-Roos), one of the best I’ve played against. He’s long, athletic and did a good job on me. Keith Langford is a great player. He went to Kansas too and so did Mario Chalmers.
Q: Did you expect that a player of his caliber would ever play overseas?
A: He’s getting a little bit older, but this is a great place for him to be and I’m sure he will succeed wonderfully. I think he’ll like it and make the best of what he has. I haven’t been following his career, but I will now that he’s playing in Greece.
Q: Other players that you keep in touch with?
A: I’m friend of Ron Baker who plays for CSKA. He went to Witchita State. I keep following him as much as I can. I think that he’s having a hard time adjusting to playing overseas and being away from home. He’s a great guy and he’ll figure it out.
Q: You got to represent the Under-16 and Under-17 USA Team in world competition. How was the experience?
A: I won gold medals with both teams. That was a dream come true and one of the coolest things that has ever happened in my career. Just being able to represent the USA was awesome.
Q: Did you expect Team USA to falter in the World Cup?
A: I did not expect that. Some of the players were injured for USA and they wanted to protect their body for the NBA season. It takes a toll on players’ knees and legs playing and doing too much once the season stops.
Q: Why do you have a Tiger Woods photo on your twitter profile page?
A: I love Tiger. He’s my favourite player of all time. I play golf a lot, actually. I play it every day in the summer.
Q: One of your most recent retweets was of a Greek scouter’s comment on your resemblance to Kevin Pangos. Which are the similarites between you and him?
A: He was really good at Gonzaga. He’s a great player and I’ll take that as a compliment, for sure. We’re both select point guards, plus we shoot and run the team really well.