2019 NBA draft prospect Robert Franks: ‘I’ve been an underdog, somebody that gets overlooked’

After four years at Washington State, 6-foot-9 forward Robert Franks will participate at the G League Elite Camp before the 2019 NBA Draft.

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Franks took home Most Improved Player in the Pac-12 Conference during the 2017-18 season and then made All Pac-12 First-Team as a senior, leading the conference in points per game and effective field goal percentage. He also had the second-best three-point percentage in the Pac-12.

With a 7-foot-3 measured wingspan and an improved body this offseason, he enters the draft as one of the most efficient shooters who can use his size to create near the basket and on defense with better focus as well. He spoke to HoopsHype about how he has prepared for the NBA.

I’d love to hear about how you have been preparing for the draft since graduating from Washington State. 

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RF: I came to Florida about five weeks ago and have been working out with coach David Thorpe. We have been a rigorous three-a-day schedule for morning, afternoon and night. He has really pushed me; he is one of the best in the business. He has changed my game from senior year of college to now six weeks later, something better, and it is really impressive.

How important has it been working with someone who has trained shooters who have been so successful in the NBA, knowing that is one of your best traits? 

RF: That has been a big-time help because he has reached out to some of the clients that he has worked out and they have given me great advice about how to do this process and handle myself. Kevin Martin came down and gave me a great talk during one of my workouts. Coach has really given me the ins and outs and has helped me perfect my craft, which really has me on the up-rise.

When he appeared on an ESPN podcast with Zach Lowe, Coach Thorpe compared you to Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton. How does the 2019 All-Star feel similar to you? 

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RF: I think it’s a spot-on comparison because of his size and length. But also his body structure and how he moves and how he shoots and dribbles and his abilities on the court are kind of near the same as mine. It’s just great to see a guy like that being successful in the league and me getting compared to him is very heartwarming and gives me a good idea of what I can potentially be in the NBA.

You tested the waters for the 2018 NBA draft. How much has that helped you go through the process for a second time thus far? 

RF: That really helped me big time, just for my confidence. Last year, I had the option to go back to school. I don’t think I was all in. To be honest, a lot of teams said I should stay in the draft. But I felt like I wasn’t ready both mentally and physically. I knew I was able to improve my game some more, which I was able to do. This year, my only focus is the NBA. I think that has propelled me to work even harder and give me greater confidence.

How important was it for you to get your degree during your college experience as well?

RF: It was huge. I got my degree in Social Science Humanities with a minor in Sports Management. I’m a sports guy and after basketball, I’m going to be involved in sports. It was big for my family, too, because I was the first in my family to graduate.

Where do you think you are going to stand out the most during the pre-draft process?

RF: They’re going to see my body transformation from my senior year until now and they are going to be very eager and surprised. They will see the way I compete hard and shoot the ball and I have a very high basketball IQ. All of those things are going to benefit me very well during this process. I want the teams to know I’m a respectful, kind and positive guy. I’m somebody that does not want drama. I’m going to move like a professional and talk highly of my teammates no matter the situation. I’m a great teammate and never selfish and very selfless. I’m a high-character guy. I feel like the NBA loves to see that.

What are some of the top motivators for your work ethic and grinding so hard all of the time?

RF: I’m top of the line in that category. Whenever I get the opportunity to get a day off, it really eats me up sitting at home and not working out knowing I did not get better. I really don’t like days off. I like to take advantage of every day to get better. I think that’s a character trait that started in the summer between my sophomore and junior year. My work ethic clicked and once that killer mentality came, I was able to expand my game and show what I can do. I got a better role on the team, too. So all of those pieces really helped me. Knowing how hard I worked, I don’t want to go backward. I only want to go forward and improve. I never want to sit around. It clicked for me. I was at the bottom. You started at 270. Let’s not go back that way. That’s what drives me to keep working harder and harder.

Do you look at the mock drafts and see projections lower than you’d like? If so, does that also play a role in your work ethic?

RF: Ever since I got to college, I’ve been an underdog. I’ve been somebody that gets overlooked through a lot of situations. I definitely see the mock drafts and definitely believe I’m lower than where I’d expect to be. That just drives me even harder. But I don’t predicate my hard work off those things. My dream is to play in the NBA. If something is your dream, you shouldn’t need extra motivation for it. It definitely adds fuel to the fire. My motto is that I love proving doubters wrong. It’s another stepping stone just to prove myself and I’m willing to go do that.

When you watch the playoffs right now, how can you see yourself in a role for one of those teams next season?

RF: I just kind of put me into the game and imagine myself being out there. Knowing what I can do on the court and how I can space the floor, I feel like I can be a great asset to a lot of teams especially in the playoffs. In this age, you need shooters and I feel I am an elite shooter and I’m a guy that is willing to do anything for their team. If they need someone to run to the corner and spot up, I am able to excel. I imagine myself in the game and it makes it so much more compelling to me, knowing that is where I belong.

What are some other offensive schemes you think you would be able to thrive in at the next level?

RF: If you put me in a pick-and-roll action and let me pick-and-pop, I can succeed. I do well when I have the ball at the elbow and I can really break my defender down. I bring so many tools to the offensive end that I can be versatile and blossom on that side of the court.

You are easily one of the longest shooters in this draft class. With your 7-foot-2 wingspan, how does that game on the offensive side of the ball? 

RF: I think it helps because I’m going to play against defenders who are both shorter and taller than I am at the next level. With my wingspan, though, I’ll have the ability to shoot over a lot of people and so many players do not have that luxury. That helps my shooting ability because I can catch really quick or produce off the dribble without having to be impacted by my defender.

I’ve also seen you’ve gone through some drastic body transformations. You’ve always been fit, but how were you able to become so much leaner?

RF: Ever since I lost weight in college, I’ve been staying eating healthy. I stay away from a lot of bad foods. I lost 40 pounds once because I went back home and my dad is big on Whole Foods. We went shopping for all organic stuff. I kind of just ate chicken breast and tilapia and vegetables for six weeks. I’ve gotten used to that. It sounds not as tasty, but every time I go through this gridiron-workout phase, I stick to that protocol. They’re both big keys for me. I did not know I could get as lean and thin as I did.

Do you do a lot of your own meal prep and cooking in the kitchen?

RF: I fell in love with eating healthy and that has been something that has driven me as a chef as well. I don’t want to get fast food, I don’t want to eat out. I would rather go home and eat a nice, balanced and healthy meal. I do not miss a beat. I like okra a lot and it is not really common. My dad makes it and a lot of people don’t like that vegetable, but I love it and wish that I could cook it as well as my dad does.

Can you share some of other your interests off the court when you are not playing basketball?

RF: I’m a very relaxed, chill guy. I like to play video games here and there. But I haven’t had very much time. I think I’m funny. When I’m around my guys and my best friends, I’m kind of a goofball. I try to entertain them and try to get them going despite whatever is going on around us.

Did you ever create yourself as a MyPlayer if you played NBA 2K?

RF: Ha! Yeah, I actually did. I made a create a player in high school with my same build and my name and everything. I put him at 99 overall because I wanted to be the best on the court. That was funny and cool. Hopefully, if I’m in the new 2K, that is going to be a dream come true for me and it is something I’ve always dreamed about. Once I get in the game and start playing as myself, I’m definitely going to be perfecting it there too.

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