On May 21, 2014, Kansas landed Ukrainian phenom Svi Mykhailiuk, much to the chagrin of SBN's spellcheck function. At the age of 16, Svi was already considered an NBA prospect, known for his remarkable shooting ability and basketball IQ. Most of Lawrence was thrilled, likely with the exception of Conner Frankamp. Frankamp, then preparing to enter his sophomore season at Kansas, was heralded for these same things, but was more than half a foot shorter than Svi, and was nowhere near being mentioned in mock drafts. Frankamp played sparingly his freshman year (just 16% of available minutes), and shot a surprisingly dismal 31% from three point range.
Though in retrospect it probably should have been anticipated, Kansas fans were a bit surprised on Halloween that year, when Frankamp announced he was leaving Kansas and seeking a transfer, just days before the Jayhawks' first exhibition game. This was before Frank Mason had really shown off his potential at point guard, and little was known about Devonte Graham, who originally committed to Appalachian State. Frankamp was thought to be in the mix at the guard position with Mason, Graham, Svi and sophomores Wayne Selden and Brannen Greene. It quickly became clear why Frankamp felt the writing was on the wall in permanent marker. Mason hit the ground running his sophomore year and showed all the traits Self values in a point guard, while Graham clearly possessed athleticism and defensive ability that Frankamp would never have. Meanwhile, Selden and Svi were being talked about in terms of pro potential and Greene was shooting the lights out. Frankamp would likely have seen a replay of his freshman year in 2014-15 at Kansas; a role player without many available minutes.
Frankamp soon announced he would be going home and playing for Wichita State. In a way, you could say that the late-signing Svi was the late-departing Frankamp's replacement before he even left. Svi's freshman year looked a lot like Conner's. He also had trouble finding playing time, and when he did, he fell short of fans' expectations by shooting 29% from three and contributing little elsewhere.
The comparison becomes stronger when you look at this past season. Frankamp had to sit out his first six games due to his late decision to transfer, but would end up being a contributor off the bench for the Shockers, blocked from starting by veteran guards Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker. Meanwhile, Svi found himself in a season-long battle with Brannen Greene for PT as the first wing off the bench. Below are their numbers for the year:
Frankamp was able to get a few more minutes per game (I didn't use min% due to his sitting out), but they played similar amounts. Frankamp's more conservative play led to a better oRtg, but both put up healthy numbers. For the "per game" crowd, Conner put up about one extra point per game, though Svi would score about 2.5 more per 40 minutes. Everywhere else, it's advantage Svi, with the exception of turnovers, where Frankamp seems to be somewhat of a savant. In all other respects, Svi simply did more with his possessions and shots than Frankamp did.
Now, Svi returns for his junior year, likely to split playing time with heralded freshman Josh Jackson. Frankamp figures to assume a starting role down in Wichita. The numbers will become increasingly difficult to compare, given the difference in competition the two will face in the Big 12 and Missouri Valley, respectively, but Svi continues to be talked about in terms of pro potential, while Frankamp is still a jump shooter who isn't hitting a whole lot of his jump shots.
Though Kansas fans were understandably unhappy when Frankamp announced his sudden transfer, it would certainly seem that his "replacement" was the better player, and that the team benefited more by gaining a scholarship to use on a young player like Lagerald Vick than having Frankamp spend his career as a shooting specialist who may or may not develop into a great shooter. I'll continue to watch these two next year, but it would certainly appear that at the very least Kansas didn't miss out on much in Frankamp's transfer, and it may have actually ended up addition by subtraction.