Jeremy Frampton has teamed up with Shawn Opunui to give the Seasiders the best passing backcourt in the PacWest.

Short and sweet
Game puts rankings on the line

By Jerry Campany

Whenever the Brigham Young-Hawaii basketball team hits the road, or sometimes when it is at home like it will be tonight against island rival Hawaii Pacific, all eyes are on Seasiders senior Jeremy Frampton.

It's not that he is the best player on the team -- that label is shared by Alexus Foyle and Scott Salisbury -- or that he is the flashiest. It is simply because he is the shortest.

The 5-foot-6 Frampton has been the favorite target of opposing fans all his basketball life. Whether he is hearing cracks about someone's young son wandering out onto the floor or his team being down to the ballboy, Frampton has heard it all. And he likes it, too.

"This year it doesn't bother me at all," Frampton said. "I love it when they do that, I've heard it forever and nothing is original any more. I still like to see what kinds of things they come up with though. I love being short."

Frampton is the shortest player in the conference, but that is not new. What is new is that he is matching up with shooting guards, taking on even taller opponents and doing his thing just as well as he ever has. He has played the point all his life, but the switch was largely his decision.

This year was supposed to be the one that Frampton had played four years of college basketball for. He came to the Seasiders three years ago knowing they didn't have a true point guard, but an injury and accumulated rust from a church mission to San Antonio led to him splitting time at the position. Although he calls the mission one of the most satisfying things he has done in his life, he was surprised at how much of the instinct that had carried him was lost. He had not picked up a basketball during the two years away.

"You lose a little bit of instincts and are a little slow," Frampton said. "It was difficult the first couple of months before the season started; I'd see a guy in my peripheral vision and throw it a step or two too late. I was a little slow."

But Frampton had a grace period during the trying time because his uncle, Allan Frampton, is one of the most successful players in BYUH history and BYUH coach Ken Wagner knows more than anyone how hard it is to get back in the game after so long away. Wagner did it himself in his playing days.

"I think Jeremy found out his sophomore year, it is a lot tougher than people think," Wagner said. "I was shocked a few times on some of the turnovers he would commit, but I knew he is a guy you can count on. You know what he's going to do without ever being much concerned."

Last year Frampton served as the backup to Yuta Tabuse, who left after the season to play professional basketball in Japan and cleared the way for Frampton to take over the position.

Although the similar-sized Tabuse thrilled crowds with no-look passes and lightning-quick hands on defense, Frampton matched him every day in practice and in games. He still doesn't see it as an opportunity lost, just one of the realities of college basketball that kids never think about when coming out of high school.

"Yuta was what everyone wanted to see," Frampton said. "When he did things everyone was impressed, but the results were really no different between us. All year, it was good for me. ... I hope he was able to learn from me."

Coach Ken Wagner was confident in Frampton's ability to run the team this year, but brought Shawn Opunui in from BYU-Provo to compete for the spot.

Only there was no competition held.

"At first I was excited because he is from Orem (Utah) and I knew all about him," Frampton said about Opunui. "I thought he would play the 2 and I would play the 1. I've played point guard my whole life, but really, if it's best for the team then I'm all for it. I get some minutes at the point and that helps."

Frampton moved to shooting guard to help the team. Taking up the new challenge allowed the Seasiders to put two excellent ball-handlers on the floor, giving Frampton the chance to dish the way he always had -- he put 10 assists with only a single turnover up on St. Martin's last week -- while also assuming responsibility as a spot-up 3-point threat. He misses running the team, but says that his comfort zone matters little when compared to that of his team.

"I like getting other people the ball," Frampton said. "But playing (shooting guard) doesn't bother me as long as I win."

As his career winds down, the 24-year-old -- he is no ballboy, he is married with a 7-month-old daughter -- has already begun to look back on his career.

"Basketball-wise, I feel the end coming and I am happy with calling it quits." Frampton said. "My goal was to play college basketball; people said I'd never do that because of my height."

That is part of why he was so willing to take one for the team this season.

"I'm 5-foot-6," Frampton said. "At least I get to play somewhere."

BYUH Athletics

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