We here at CBS Sports have once again teamed up with the United States Basketball Writers Association and its Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award, meaning our weekly feature on the best freshman in the country will work hand in hand with the Tisdale committee and the USBWA. The winner of the award in March, while a ceremony for all USBWA honors will take place in early April.
CBS Sports Freshman of the Week for Dec. 15-21: Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon.
Florida State’s flashy freshman had the chance to shine with three games since our last update a week ago. In that time, FSU went 3-0 with wins over Mississippi State, FAU and Charleston Southern. Bacon took advantage, posting three 20-point games and boasting a line of 21.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and shooting 59 percent from the field (24 for 41).
Bacon was one of the most highly coveted recruits in the class of 2015, and his decision to play for Florida State should create an NCAA Tournament reality for the Seminoles this season if he continues to perform in league play the way he has through the first five weeks of the season.
What makes Bacon’s recent hot streak oddly more impressive: he can’t hit a 3. He’s not made a long ball in almost a month (Nov. 23), yet continues to be an offensive necessity for Leonard Hamilton’s team. With Bacon, fellow frosh Malik Beaslely and sophomore stud Xavier Rathan-Mayes, FSU has one of the best three-man attacks in all of college hoops. We’re just going to have to wait a little while longer to see these fellas play some legitimate competition.
Bacon’s defense needs to be a little more consistent, and if he can do that in addition to facilitating FSU’s offense, he’ll find himself in the top five of our national watch. Speaking of which …
Below, the top 10 in our Freshman of the Year Watch.
(Quick key for two critical stats listed below: PER = player efficiency rating. ORtg = offensive rating. Explanations for both are in those links. Anything above 30 in PER is exceedingly good; topping 35 is elite. And anything above 120 in ORtg is undeniably great, while cracking 130 is absolutely remarkable.)
|RANK||PLAYER||WAYMAN TISDALE AWARD WATCH|
|1||BEN SIMMONS | LSU Tigers
Stats:18.7 ppg, 13.9 rpg, 5.8 apg, 33.99 PER, 122.6 ORtg
LSU romped in the past week thanks to two consecutive home games against bad teams. The Tigers beat Gardner-Webb and Oral Roberts by an average of 22 points and needed Simmons on the floor less than 30 minutes on average between the two games. He’s still clearly No. 1 in the Frosh of the Year race, and in terms of his NBA stock, the latest mock draft from DraftExpress.com was released on Monday — Simmons is still projected to go No. 1.
|2||HENRY ELLENSON | Marquette Golden Eagles
Stats: 16.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 22.94 PER, 106.8 ORtg Be on the lookout for a story on Ellenson here at CBSSports.com later on Tuesday. In his only game since our last update, the clear-cut No. 2 choice for our National Freshman of the Year had 19 points and 13 rebounds in Marquette’s 91-74 win over Chicago State. Ellenson has had a double-double if six of his 11 games.
|3||BRANDON INGRAM | Duke Blue Devils
Stats:14.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 25.43 PER, 115.4 ORtg
Ingram was a bit slow to start the season but has absolutely shown flashes of dominance and go-to-guy capability over the past two weeks. Funny thing is, he looked like one of the best players in the country when he put up 26 and 14 over Georgia Southern last Tuesday, then was held in check (to some degree) in Duke’s OT loss against Utah on Saturday. Still, he managed three blocks and steals in that loss. Ingram just edges out the follow three guys to take the third spot in the chase.
|4||DEDRIC LAWSON | Memphis Tigers
Stats:16.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 24.23 PER, 99.6 ORtg
The best prospect you’re not watching. Lawson is quietly exceeding the hype he carried with him into Memphis. A local kid, he’s done everything Josh Pastner’s needed him to do. Problem is, the team around him isn’t that good, and at this point, he’s on pace to miss the NCAA Tournament. Memphis has an unusual road game on Jan. 2, at currently unbeaten South Carolina, and that could be a big opportunity for Lawson to showcase himself. Fellow promising frosh P.J. Dozier, who’s had a slow start to his career.
|5||MALIK BEASLEY | Florida State Seminoles
Stats:17.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 52.2 FG%, 27.88 PER, 126.4 ORtgHad a solid week, but Lawson and Ingram outperformed him, especially when you consider his teammate, Dwayne Bacon, is now on his heels. Overall, it’s not super-duper close because Beasley is outperforming Bacon in pretty much every category, though the margins are slim. FSU is now 9-2 but lacks a legitimate win. It can get one in a week, when it plays its next game, which happens to be a roadie vs. the Florida Gators.
Next five up: Dwayne Bacon, Florida State; Caleb Swanigan, Purdue; Allonzo Trier, Arizona; Jamal Murray, Kentucky; Tyler Lydon, Syracuse.
Freshman statistical leaders in major categories:
Points: Ben Simmons, LSU (18.7)
Rebounds: Simmons (13.9)
Assists: Tra-Deon Hollins, Nebraska Omaha (6.2)
Blocks: Yankuba Sima, St. John’s (3.58)
Steals: Hollins (4.00)
PER: Simmons (33.98)
ORtg (In highest usage block; min. 28 percent of possessions used): Marshawn Wilson, Northern Illinois (114.6)
Previous winners this season of the CBS Sports Freshman of the Week:
Week 1: Ben Simmons, LSU
Week 2: Tyler Lydon, Syracuse
Week 3: Brandon Ingram, Duke
Week 4: Henry Ellenson, Marquette