Robert Franks having break-out season at WSU

Former Evergreen HS star, ‘Robo’ is leading Cougars in scoring this season

Robert Franks knew that more would be expected of him this basketball season.

Robert Franks
Robert Franks

He also knew after last year, he was not really ready for the added responsibility.

Of course, he wanted more minutes. He wanted to play better. He wanted to succeed, to live up to his own expectations.

So he had to go to work on a lot more than just basketball fundamentals. Franks went to work on getting his body prepared for Pac-12 basketball.

Then he saw instant results.

“Opening night against Texas Southern. We were down 20 points. It just kind of clicked for me,” Franks said. “Just knowing this team needs me to be the head of the snake to be successful. I took that role and took it with pride.”

Washington State, behind Franks’ 25 points and 11 rebounds, rallied to win the season opener back in November. His breakout season with the Cougars has continued.

Franks, a junior forward for the Cougars and a 2015 graduate of Evergreen High School, is averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per night and has started every game this season.

This is the new Robo, his nickname for years.

“The biggest difference was getting my body in the best shape of my life and just confidence,” Franks said. “I can play at this level. I can play at a high level.”

After dropping some 20 pounds off his frame during the offseason, Vancouver’s Robert Franks is in the best shape of his life and is playing his best basketball for Washington State. Photo courtesy of Washington State University
After dropping some 20 pounds off his frame during the offseason, Vancouver’s Robert Franks is in the best shape of his life and is playing his best basketball for Washington State. Photo courtesy of Washington State University

Franks dropped more than 20 pounds off of his 6-foot, 7-inch frame this past summer, anticipating a greater role with the Cougars.

“I knew I was going to be playing a lot of minutes. Me changing my body helped with my conditioning in games, not getting fatigued. I needed to be able to play a 40-minute game (while) always playing at a high level.”

That is the key. Playing extended minutes does not help if one is tired on the court.

Franks, in his new body, looks energized.

A season ago, he averaged 16 minutes a game. This season, he has almost doubled his time on the court. He scored a career-high 32 points against UC Davis. He had 25 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists against Idaho State. And he is shooting 49 percent from the floor, including 41 percent from 3-point range.

Franks credited Jason Dudley, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, for pushing all the right buttons to change his habits. When Franks was home, he worked out with Paul Cannon, a former assistant coach at Evergreen and now the women’s basketball coach at Clark College. Franks also listened to the advice of his father, Robert Franks Sr.

It was a team effort to get Robo in the shape he needed to be in going forward.

Robert Franks, an Evergreen graduate, is averaging 17.6 points per game in his junior season at Washington State. Photo courtesy of Washington State University
Robert Franks, an Evergreen graduate, is averaging 17.6 points per game in his junior season at Washington State. Photo courtesy of Washington State University

Beyond college, Franks said his dream is to play in the NBA. Now, though, his only concern is helping the Cougars.

“Get this team to the NCAA tournament,” he said of the goal. “I’m focused on getting this team the furthest it can get to right now.”

The Cougars opened Pac-12 Conference play with back-to-back losses in Los Angeles last week (to USC and UCLA).. But they have three home games in a row coming up, including Saturday’s contest against rival Washington.

“We are 0-2 (in Pac-12) but we have a really good team,” Franks said. “We can turn this thing around really quick.”

Franks’ basketball “season” started early this year, too. He was part of an American summer team that played eight games in China.

“The Great Wall was just an over-the-top great experience,” Franks said. “It lived up to its expectations.”

That is what Franks wants out of himself, to live up to his own expectations. That was the motivating factor in making the change in his diet, in his workout regimine, in order to soar.

Robert Franks is shooting 49 percent from the floor, including 41 percent from 3-point range, and is leading Washington State in scoring. Photo courtesy of Washington State University
Robert Franks is shooting 49 percent from the floor, including 41 percent from 3-point range, and is leading Washington State in scoring. Photo courtesy of Washington State University

No matter where this journey will take him, he will always remember where it all started.

“It was a great time, playing with good friends, just living the moment,” he said of his days at Evergreen. “Memories I won’t forget, for sure.”

He also hopes to see more Clark County basketball players reach their dreams. He has advice, too.

“You’ve got to dedicate yourself to your craft day-in and day-out. The most important stuff is school first,” said Franks, who is majoring in sports management. “If you work hard and believe in your craft, it can happen.”

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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