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Washington State’s Robert Franks earns first-team All-Pac-12; CJ Elleby named to All-Freshman team

UPDATED: Mon., March 11, 2019, 9:13 p.m.

Washington State head coach Ernie Kent, right, speaks to forward CJ Elleby (2), forward Robert Franks Jr. (3) and other players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (Young Kwak / AP)
Washington State head coach Ernie Kent, right, speaks to forward CJ Elleby (2), forward Robert Franks Jr. (3) and other players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Pullman, Wash., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (Young Kwak / AP)

Another season of marked improvement for Washington State’s Robert Franks was rewarded when the Pac-12 Conference revealed postseason honors Monday morning.

Franks, who finished the regular season with the Pac-12’s top scoring average, was named to the 10-player All-Pac-12 First Team, as voted on by the league’s coaches. WSU teammate CJ Elleby was one of five players named to the All-Freshman team.

A native of Vancouver, Washington, Franks earned Pac-12 Most Improved Player honors last season after improving his scoring average from 6.4 to 17.4 points per game. The senior forward boosted that number again in 2018-19, concluding the regular season with a league-high 22.1 ppg after scoring 37 points in the season finale against Oregon State. Franks’ scoring average ranks 18th nationally, and he’s currently tied for eighth on WSU’s single-season scoring list with 575 points.

“I think it’s nice for them and also for Washington State,” WSU coach Ernie Kent said. “For Robert Franks to come and the maturity, the change that took place in his body, his mental game. From nowhere to Most Improved Player, from Most Improved Player to all-conference, hoping from all-conference to NBA. That’s just an amazing accomplishment.”

Franks also improved his rebounding numbers as a senior, grabbing 6.6 boards per game in 2017-18 and 7.4 this season – good enough for seventh in the Pac-12.

He becomes the first Cougar player to earn first-team honors since guard Davonte Lacy in 2015.

“It was refreshing to see my name on that list,” Franks said. “Just knowing all the hard work I did this summer and coming back paid off. It was really refreshing.”

Elleby posted 14.9 ppg as a true freshman and reached 462 on the season to break Steve Puidokas’ WSU freshman scoring record. The Seattle native’s scoring average ranked 11th in the Pac-12, and his rebounding average of seven board per game was ninth in the conference. Among WSU freshmen, Elleby is second in rebounding (218), sixth in assists (94), and sixth in steals (31).

“For CJ to come in his freshman year … the potential that he can go to in his game not just only as a scorer but as a defender, the way he can pass the ball,” Kent said. “It’s just amazing.”

It’s the first time WSU has placed someone on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team since 2010, when Reggie Moore was honored.

The 11th-seeded Cougars open Pac-12 Tournament play at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday against No. 6 Oregon.

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