University of Missouri

Mizzou guards K.J. Walton, Frankie Hughes will transfer

Guard K.J. Walton (right) will be transferring from Missouri along with guard Frankie Hughes, the school confirmed Tuesday.
Guard K.J. Walton (right) will be transferring from Missouri along with guard Frankie Hughes, the school confirmed Tuesday. The Associated Press

Two shooting guards, rising junior K.J. Walton and rising sophomore Frankie Hughes, will transfer from Missouri.

The Tigers’ athletic department confirmed Tuesday in a statement that Walton and Hughes weren’t sticking around.

“We wish K.J. and Frankie the best in their future academic and athletic pursuits,” new Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin said in the release. “We will support both of them as much as possible, and assist in their transitions to the best of our ability.”

Walton, an Indianapolis native from Brownsburg High, averaged 6.0 points in 63 games with the Tigers, including 24 starts during the last two seasons.

He chipped in 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last season, but his shooting numbers slumped dramatically to 39.4 percent overall, 21.7 percent from three-point range and 60.3 percent from the free-throw line.

Hughes created a stir in his first two collegiate games, scoring 23 points in the season opener against Alabama A&M and dropping 24 against Xavier during the opening game of the Tire Pros Invitational in Orlando, Fla.

He scored in double figures during five of the next seven games, leading MU in scoring at 13.6 points per game, but floundered from there.

Hughes — who originally signed with Louisville, received a waiver and instead came to Mizzou last spring — sat out the nonconference finale against Lipscomb after returning late from Christmas break.

He averaged 5.1 points the remainder of the season and only reached double figures once, a 22-point outburst at Mississippi. During that span, he shot 27.9 percent on two-point field goals and 26.7 percent from three-point range.

Hughes missed a potential game-tying three-pointer in the closing seconds against the Rebels, but he made one in a nearly identical situation to force overtime against Auburn on March 8 during the SEC Tournament.

Hughes’ former high school teammate, forward Willie Jackson, transferred to Toledo in midseason. The two played together at Garfield Heights High in Cleveland.

Jackson averaged 5.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 11 games last season before opting not to return after Christmas break, saying he needed to be closer to home.

Mizzou now has eight returning players from last season’s roster.

The Tigers also signed C.J. Roberts in November, a commitment he reaffirmed Monday, and received a commitment March 24 from Michael Porter Jr.

Barring any other transfers, Missouri has three open scholarships for next season. Tampa (Fla.) Catholic small forward Kevin Knox II and Word of God Christian Academy point guard Blake Harris from Raleigh, N.C., are expected to visit Columbia this weekend.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer