Luke Frampton’s journey back from a debilitating knee injury isn’t complete. But it’s showing strong signs of getting there.
Frampton, Davidson’s redshirt freshman guard, has blossomed into perhaps the Atlantic 10’s top 3-point shooter – a perch many expected him to reach sooner rather than later when he arrived on campus in 2017.
Back then, Wildcats coach Bob McKillop was as excited about Frampton’s prospects as he was of another freshman, Kellan Grady. But a knee injury suffered during an October practice snuffed out Frampton’s season. Grady would go on to become the Atlantic 10’s rookie of the year.
Healthy now, Frampton is beginning to fulfill the potential McKillop has always seen in him.
“I think he’s just scratching the surface,” said McKillop, whose Wildcats (14-5, 5-1 A-10) play a key game at Saint Louis (14-5, 5-1) Saturday.
Frampton’s sweet shooting touch was on full display in a game against Richmond at Belk Arena on Jan. 19, when he made 8-of-15 3-pointers and scored 24 points. Frampton leads the A-10 in 3-pointers made (58) and attempted (155). His 37.4 3-point shooting percentage ranks eighth in the league.
“Pretty close to feeling my normal self, I’m pretty confident right now,” said Frampton, who is 6-foot-5. “I’m playing myself back to my old self. Coach is giving me lots of confidence.”
In Davidson’s past three games, Frampton has made 50 percent of his 3-pointers (15-of-30). He has a legitimate shot at catching Brian Sullivan’s 99 3-pointers made in 2015-16 as the most in a season by a Davidson player not named Stephen Curry (who owns the top three single-season marks in program history).
The Richmond game was special and nearly historical. Frampton scored 15 consecutive points during one stretch and came to within one 3-pointer of matching Curry’s school record of nine in a game.
Frampton, who averages 10.8 points, said the last time he had a similar shooting game was when he scored 53 in summer league before his senior season at Poca (W.Va.) High.
“I was feeling it back then, I remember it well,” Frampton said. “(Richmond) was close to that.”
Frampton’s performance against Richmond resonated during the Wildcats’ next game, a 73-62 victory Wednesday against George Washington. Getting a lot of attention from Colonials defenders, Frampton still made 3-of-4 shots from deep for 11 points.
“They were chasing him off the line,” said Wildcats junior guard KiShawn Pritchett. “Every time he touched the ball, they were all in him. Whenever he got space, he’d knock it down. Even when he didn’t have space, too.”
As Frampton continues to work his way back to form, he understands the need to broaden his offensive repertoire (155 of his 176 shot attempts have been 3-pointers). He’s gone to the basket a few times already this season as defenders play off him to respect his jumper.
“Coach has been encouraging him take to advantage of people closing him down,” said Grady. “Luke has the ability to take advantage.”
But that’s as much a psychological hurdle as a physical one for Frampton.
“Coach is definitely trying to push me to do that, then I can get fouled more and get to the line,” Frampton said. “But I still feel like I’m a little cautious doing that. I don’t want to land wrong. That’s how I got hurt in the first place.”
Frampton added three assists (he averages 1.7 per game) against George Washington.
“He’s a great passer,” said McKillop. “He can be like (Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick) Mahomes. Like a dart. Whoosh!”
Frampton says he still has a ways to go before he’s his old self. He continues to lose weight from the 227 pounds he reached while sitting out last season toward a goal of between 210-215 pounds.
“My New Year’s resolution is to eat less sweets, cookies and cupcakes, things like that,” Frampton said. “I’ve broadened my palette. I wasn’t much of a fruit guy when I got down here, but now I’m eating more strawberries and other berries.”
Frampton credits assistant coach Will Reigel for moral support during his rehab and as he’s worked his way back to form this season.
“Lots of late-night and early-morning texts,” Frampton said.
And McKillop still feels the same way about Frampton as he did when he first set foot on campus:
“I think he can become one of the great guards in Davidson College history.”