The adjective which best describes Frankie Hughes and the season he just had would be “enigmatic.” Hughes came out of the gate like gangbusters, averaging 23.5 points in his first two contests against Alabama A&M and Xavier. He hit over 40% of his 3-pointers and looked like the kind of player Missouri had been missing for the last two years.
Over the next nine games Hughes went just 14 of 64 from deep, a paltry 21.8%, and then his high school teammate left the team after Christmas break. If you believe my reporting (and you should), Hughes was out the door as well before being talked back to the team by the coaching staff.
#3 Frankie Hughes
6'4" 192 lbs
Once he stuck around, he continued to struggle. He never played less than 20 minutes in the first 11 games of the season, and only went over 20 minutes once in 16 games before a road game at Ole Miss reminded us what he was capable of. In 27 minutes, he went 5-for-11 from 3-point range and scored 22 points in helping Mizzou pull off a near upset in Oxford.
Buoyed by that performance, Hughes found a little sense of self and played better down the stretch. Missouri fans will likely remember two huge 3s he hit in the win against Auburn in the SEC Tournament — one to tie the game and send it to overtime and another to tie the game in OT and set Kevin Puryear up to win it at the buzzer.
It was announced on Tuesday that Hughes would be transferring from Missouri. The news isn’t shocking but could be seen as a little disappointing.
Hughes has everything you would want when it comes to the building blocks of a great player. He’s got good size at 6’4, good length, good quickness, and decent athleticism, and he’s got this great flick-of-the-wrist jump shot. His trigger is so quick he sometimes fails to think about whether he should shoot or not. The ball just comes out.
When he’s hot, Hughes can carry a team offensively. The problem is he was rarely hot during the season and was usually quite cold. This is why Hughes found himself sitting more as the season wore on.
Still, the talent is there, and you can see it. With his size and length and quick trigger, if Hughes could become more consistent with his shot he could be an all-league level player. But it’s not going to happen at Mizzou.
I’ll be tracking Hughes the rest of the way. He’s an intriguing talent and seems like a tough kid. Hope he finds a place he can call home and be great.
Frankie Hughes, we hardly knew ye. Having a player transfer out after just one year in the program is tough for both the fans and the player. For the player, I imagine it could be viewed as a waste of time after just getting started and then having to start over. In Frankie’s case, perhaps he should have maintained his commitment to Louisville and played for a winning team that got to the dance.
On top of all this, the reason he came to Mizzou was to play with his high school friend Willie Jackson, who then left at the semester break. Most players’ freshman seasons are tough and have ups and downs, but in Frankie’s case the peaks and valleys were stark, and the number of valleys seemed to outnumber the peaks.
I wish him all the best, and I’m looking forward to watching his career elsewhere, as I do with all the players who have come through the revolving door that Mizzou has been for the past three years.
One wonders what might have happened had Frankie gotten a little more help early on. Like Teki Gill-Caesar two years ago, Hughes was asked to carry a monstrous scoring load at the start of his freshman season, and once his “I’ve gotta score” mindset was established, he struggled to steer out of it when he hit a slump. And you could almost see the existential crisis he was going through; it was clear enough in his body language that I was actually surprised he returned after winter break.
Still, he did come back, and he was looking at a situation that would include both new coaching, opportunity (Mizzou doesn’t have just a ton of guards at the moment) and help (i.e. Michael Porter Jr. and C.J. Roberts) in 2017-18. It was intriguing to think about what he might be able to contribute ... but still wasn’t surprising to see him leave. Good luck to him.