The Daily Evergreen

Towering over opponents

Robert Franks dreams of making it to NBA one day, but focuses on leading Cougars

Robert+Franks+attempts+to+shoot+a+free+throw+at+the+game+against+UI+on+Dec.+6+at+the+Kibbie+Dome.+
Robert Franks attempts to shoot a free throw at the game against UI on Dec. 6 at the Kibbie Dome.

Robert Franks attempts to shoot a free throw at the game against UI on Dec. 6 at the Kibbie Dome.

RYAN PUGH | Daily Evergreen file

RYAN PUGH | Daily Evergreen file

Robert Franks attempts to shoot a free throw at the game against UI on Dec. 6 at the Kibbie Dome.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

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To fill the void left by the departure of the 2016-2017 WSU men’s basketball senior class, junior forward Robert Franks has stepped up to become a leader on the team.

“I knew coming into this year that I would have to be the head of the snake for this team,” Franks said. “Me and Malachi [Flynn], we always talked about it and we just try and lead this team in the right direction on and off the court.”

Just a year ago, Franks was coming off the bench for the Cougars, with former WSU forwards Josh Hawkinson and Conor Clifford seeing more time on the court. Franks played about 16 minutes a game and averaged just over six points per contest.

Following the 2016-2017 season, Franks dedicated his offseason to his physique and his diet. He credits his strength and conditioning coach Jason Dudley for doing a “tremendous” job getting him into peak condition. Franks said he has never been in better shape in his life following last offseason.

Better conditioning and a larger role on the team paid off during Franks’ performance on the court. He is now the leading scorer for the Cougars this season, averaging about 18 points per game.

Franks said his ability to shoot from behind the three-point arc has expanded his game, making him a much more versatile forward. The 6-foot-7-inch Vancouver native has knocked down 19 three-pointers this season.

Franks is quick to attribute his success in game to others close to him for helping him accomplish his goals.

His relationship with Head Coach Ernie Kent is one that benefits him greatly both on and off the court, he said.

“He helps me with anything in life and that’s what I love about him the most,” Franks said. “He cares about every player the same. We set goals going into the season and just try to keep meeting them.”

Playing in the NBA is the ultimate goal for Franks, but it is a goal he tries not to think about too much. When the season is going, Franks said his team can’t afford for him to have his mind on anything but winning.

With all the effort that goes into preparing for basketball, there is hardly any down time. But Franks said he and his teammates love to play video games when they aren’t on the hardwood or in class.

He claims to be the best FIFA player on the team, although he acknowledged senior forward Drick Bernstine can give him a run for his money. He also likes NBA 2K18 and Fortnite, but he admits that sophomore point guard Malachi Flynn is the best 2K player and Bernstine is a superior Fortnite player.

Among others who are very supportive of Franks are his parents, Shannon Franks and Robert Franks Sr. Whether it is basketball advice or consultation after a tough game, his parents are always there for him.

“It’s always good to call Mom, Dad and know there will be a heartwarming call,” Franks said. “They keep me up, they never keep me too low or too high, they just keep me right in the flow of things.”

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Towering over opponents