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 Jan. 19-25: Marquette’s Henry Ellenson.
Marquette’s best player is once again the CBS Sports Freshman of the Week. Henry Ellenson, who is a projected top-10 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, previously took the honor in the fourth installment of this series earlier this season. He’s also really pushing against Duke’s Brandon Ingram for No. 2 in our overall Freshman Watch, which you can view below.
Ellenson’s been tabbed as the Big East Newcomer of the Week four times this season. Last week, he averaged 13.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks. Marquette lost 57-56 at home vs. DePaul, then went on the road to defeat St. John’s 78-73. The SJU game was where Ellenson really went off, scoring 16 points and grabbing 18 boards. The 18 rebounds set a Marquette record in conference play. He’s at 11 double-doubles for the year.
Marquette is still fighting to be a player in the Big East this season, but if you haven’t yet seen Ellenson play, change that immediately. He’s got this game that’s a great blend of old-school styles with modern adaptability. He can step out and shoot. He’s tough to guard, yet can also defend pretty well against four of the five positions.
It’s about time we started giving more attention to Ellenson and what he’s doing. The reason that hasn’t happened yet is because Marquette is 3-5 in the Big East.
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:19.6 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 5.1 apg, 32.71 PER, 118.8 ORtg
Simmons’ team split the week over the past seven days, which was a win, really. Two road games, with a loss at now-fifth-ranked A&M followed up by a close-shave win against Alabama. It’s enough to keep the Bayou Bengals tracking toward the NCAAs … barely. LSU is home to Georgia on Tuesday night, then a huge one comes on Saturday, when No. 1 Oklahoma heads to Baton Rouge. What an awesome game that’s going to be. If LSU wins both of these games and Simmons essentially posts his average stat line, you’ll start to hear more about how he should be seriously considered for Player of the Year.
|2||BRANDON INGRAM | Duke Blue Devils
Stats:17.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 26.23 PER, 120.0 ORtg
Well, the Duke slide continues, but it’s not because of Ingram. He posted 25 and 7 in a win at NC State and then put up 19 and 10 on Monday night in Duke’s loss at Miami. Ingram continues to look like a solid No. 2 choice for both Freshman of the Year and the upcoming NBA Draft. His game continues to grow. He made a few plays against Miami — particularly one in transition — that maybe six or seven guys in the sport could have pulled off. Duke has a long layoff to get right. Its next game comes in a week at Georgia Tech.
|3||HENRY ELLENSON | Marquette Golden Eagles
Stats: 15.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 20.28 PER, 98.9 ORtg Next up for Ellenson: home to Stetson on Wednesday (what a random nonconference game that is) and then home to Butler on Saturday. The Golden Eagles would really put an interesting wrinkle into the Big East if they can knock off Butler, a team that started the season strong but is wobbling.
|4||MALIK BEASLEY | Florida State Seminoles
Stats:17.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 51.6 FG%, 25.75 PER, 122.0 ORtgHis team is so vexing, but Beasley keeps producing. FSU lost at Louisville and home to Pitt in the past week, but in those games Beasley posted a 19.5 points average and was a stellar 17-for-23 across both games. So he’s still a really logical choice at No. 4.
|5||DEDRIC LAWSON | Memphis Tigers
Stats:14.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 20.04 PER, 94.7 ORtg
I would say Lawson is clinging to the 5 spot. It’s really close, and if Memphis doesn’t keep winning, and he keeps at about 14 and 8 and his O rating doesn’t jump, then yeah, he’s going to fall out of the top five. The Tigers lost last week at Cincinnati (reasonable) and then at home to East Carolina, which is just horrendous. Lawson remains a bright spot on a team that is stuck in second gear.
Next five up: Dwayne Bacon, Florida State; Diamond Stone, Maryland; Caleb Swanigan, Purdue; Jamal Murray, Kentucky; James Thompson IV, Eastern Michigan.
Freshman statistical leaders in major categories:
Points: Ben Simmons, LSU (19.6)
Rebounds: Simmons (12.6)
Assists: Joseph Chartouny, Fordham (5.2)
Blocks: Yankuba Sima, St. John’s (3.06)
Steals: Laquincy Rideau, Gardner-Webb (2.57)
PER: Simmons (32.71)
ORtg (In highest usage block; min. 28 percent of possessions used): Diamond Stone, Maryland (119.0)
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
Week 5: Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
Week 6: Edmond Sumner, Xavier
Week 7: Diamond Stone, Maryland
Week 8: Brandon Ingram, Duke
Week 9: Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State