Last week we began our position previews with the point guards and combo guards, who with the way Mizzou’s roster is set is almost entirely interchangeable both due to attrition and the recent injury to Jordan Geist’s pinky finger.
This week we’ll finish off the previews before Mizzou tips off its exhibition game against Kim Anderson’s former place of employment, Central Missouri. Today we’re taking a look at the guys that will populate the Wing, guys expected to put the ball in the basket while getting a few boards each game, and primarily working off the ball.
Inevitably you find players you want to see succeed for a variety of reasons and for me the player who tops my personal list is K.J. Walton. Walton does a lot of things well, he gets to the line a lot, he’s capable of finishing with contact, and he plays with a lot of energy. The problems are his quirky shot and quirkier defense. Walton spent a lot of time this offseason working on both, so if he can refine them and well enough to stay on the court for longer periods of time, I have full faith in Walton being a key guy who could help Missouri get back to relevance.
I’m telling you, he might frustrate the hell out of you at times this year, but Frankie Hughes is a baller.— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) October 30, 2016
If there’s another guy who is high on my list it’s Hughes. There’s a confidence to his game, and when you couple it with good size and a quick release on his jumper it boils up to a guy I want on my side of things, even if he’s a year or two away from being truly great.
I wonder how much time Jordan Barnett and Willie Jackson will get at the wing spot. Both seem very suited for a sort of ‘Stretch-4’ spot to compliment a versatile big. The problem is Missouri lacks a versatile big, so you’ll see these guys play off the ball on the wing a fair amount. I’d expect Missouri to be a much better rebounding team when those two are in the lineup though, and Barnett can shoot it some. He’s one of the more athletic guys on the roster, and can do things like this which is cool:
Either way Kim Anderson goes, his best depth in here on the wing.
For all of the hoopla about sophomore guards Terrence Phillips and Cullen VanLeer, the real difference makers for Mizzou reside at the wing position. Not only is the wing position the most talented position, it also has the most question marks.
Frankie Hughes: Hughes, a former Louisville commit, has all of the intangibles to be a major contributor at Mizzou for years to come. He has great size, listed at 6’4”, 192 lbs., and a beautiful shooting stroke. Based on his performance at the Hoops and Halloween scrimmage, he definitely won’t hesitate to shoot the ball, which is something that Missouri needs. While I don’t expect Hughes to be a huge contributor this season, especially behind Jordan Barnett and KJ Walton, he will take advantage of whatever opportunities come his way.
Jordan Barnett: Barnett was a highly touted recruit out of St. Louis. After a few unarchiving seasons at Texas, Barnett transferred to Mizzou in hopes of finding his mojo again. While watching Missouri’s practice sessions and the Hoops and Halloween scrimmage, it’s easy to see why he was such a sought-after recruit coming out of high school. Barnett’s game is very smooth. Often times it’s tough to tell whether or not he’s going at full speed because he seems so in control that his game looks effortless. From his crazy athleticism to his above average shooting touch, Barnett has all of the tools to be a real star for Missouri once he becomes eligible in mid-December. The only question is whether he will be able to leave his Texas struggles behind and finally play to his potential at Missouri.
KJ Walton is the best player on this team. Don't @ me unless you're in the NBA or you are an analyst for ESPN. SEC Network not included— Tramel Raggs (@Raggs_No_Riches) October 29, 2016
KJ Walton: Walton is the real wildcard out of this bunch, but I’m a firm believer that he is the best player on this roster. While his freshman year was a bit of a letdown, especially early in the season, Walton gave fans a taste of his potential during the last month of the season following the departure of Wes Clark. KJ Walton has an uncanny ability to get to the free throw line and finish through contact. It’s obvious that KJ Walton spent the offseason putting in work, as he came back noticeably more defined and with a much more effective jump shot. This combination should allow his strength (driving to the basket) to flourish, as defenders now have to respect his jump shot as well as his ability to drive to the bucket. The only question that still remains is whether or not Walton can find some consistency to his game. If so, the sky is the limit.
When looking at Kim Anderson’s second recruiting class, the player that generated the most excitement was KJ Walton, who was lightly recruited due to concerns with his ability to qualify, due to his recruiting ranking (only lower than Teki Gill Ceaser from recruiting class number 1) and the potential as a playmaker on the outside.
During his freshman season KJ never seemed to put everything together the way in which his freshman classmates Terrence Phillips and Kevin Puryear did. Because of this, Walton’s minutes fluctuated and time that many Mizzou fans had hoped would go to him and his development went to Cullen VanLeer who we pointed out last week had a bad freshman season. Why he wasn’t playing more and starting once things had shaken out in February with Clark and Allen gone is anyone’s guess, whether it was a practice performance issue or just confidence we’ll never know, but it did seem like there was a missed opportunity there. One afforded to both Puryear and Phillips.
Walton’s freshman season wasn’t exactly atypical but for a team that wasn’t going anywhere by early January, it never felt like the coaching staff allowed him to get into a groove going for double digit minutes in some games to as low as five in others.
The hope is that in year two KJ will find himself if not in the starting lineup at least the first man off the bench because looking at the roster as it currently stands he’s got the most potential to be a true star for Mizzou this season and into the future.
Simply if Kim Anderson does turn this titanic around this season and earns his fourth year on the bench, much will be based on the progress and contribution we see from Walton, because no one else on this roster has as much potential to carry Mizzou to the next level as he does.
December 17, 2016, mark that date down people. For on this day the first semester at Mizzou ends and we get our first real look at mid year Texas transfer, Jordan Barnett. Right now Jordan Barnett is like a back up quarterback that everyone really likes but no one knows how good he truly is because he’s not playing. And should Mizzou struggle early all eyes will certainly turn to Barnett. Barnett was a four star recruit coming out of CBC in St. Louis and the 82nd ranked player in his class, so he’s got the profile on paper that could make an immediate impact.
Looking back, mid season transfers have shown out quite well at Mizzou whether it was Albert White (from Michigan), Jason Conley (from VMI) or Jabari Brown (from Oregon), all had an immediate and positive impact on the Tigers with Albert White eventually becoming a leading rebounder and scorer for Norm Stewart’s final team, or Jason Conley being named an All Big 12 Newcomer and doing everything but drag an underachieving Quin Snyder team almost into the NCAA tournament.
Barnett in his time at Texas had an up and down freshman season, and then when Rick Barnes was fired and Shaka Smart hired to take his place, Barnett never really fit into the havoc style of play that Smart is inclined to run. Barnett has already been tabbed by the staff as a potential leading scorer for this year’s Tiger team and much is already expected of him once he becomes eligible.
Looking at his stats from his first two years, it’s difficult to make an assessment of what to expect having played so sparingly last year and a helter-skelter freshman season.
If nothing else, no matter what Jordan Barnett does he is evidence that Corey Tate did do something at Mizzou before heading back to St. Louis.
Finally we have former Manhattan Walk On transfer Trevor Glassman, a guy who will fill out a uniform, practice with the team and potentially get in games if Mizzou is destroying someone or getting destroyed…let’s hope for the former shall we?
Coming tomorrow we’ve got the combo forwards where Mizzou has good size and potential out the yin yang!