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. 12-18: Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans.
Oklahoma State is just 9-8 this season, and at 1-4 in the Big 12, reaching the NCAA Tournament is practically a long shot. But here’s a bright spot for the Cowboys — Jawun Evans. OSU gave Oklahoma a real run of it last week, and in that 74-72 loss, Evans had 42 points, which set a program record for most in a game by a first-year Cowboys player. In fact, the previous mark was 29.
It was also the most points by any Poke in a Bedlam game (meaning against Oklahoma, specifically) and was the third-highest point total by a Cowboy in school history. The last time an Oklahoma State player had this many points in a game was back in 1995, when Randy Rutherford put up 45 in Allen Fieldhouse. Plus, Evans’ 42 was a season-high for freshman in college hoops this season.
He followed that up with 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in OSU’s 74-69 loss against Texas. All told, a really good week for him, even if the team is in a rut. Travis Ford recruited a good one to Stillwater. Evans could wind up being a program-changing player if he stays with the program for the next couple of years.
Evans is averaging 12.4 points, 4.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds this season. If he has a couple more offensive outbursts, he’ll crack the top 10 of our Freshman Watch, which has quite the log-jam between No. 8 and about No. 15. Guys like Ivan Rabb, Jamal Murray, Allonzo Trier and Marcus Evans are all banging on the door. Now Juwan Evans is, too.
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:20.0 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 5.1 apg, 33.68 PER, 120.1 ORtg
LSU has done a good job in playing closer to its potential, and best of all, it hasn’t needed Simmons to light the world on fire in the process. The Tigers went 2-0 last week with home wins over Ole Miss and Arkansas; the latter saw Simmons go for 18 points, 16 rebounds and five turnovers. He’s still comfortably atop the Frosh Watch, but it’s about to get interesting, because LSU’s next two games are at Texas A&M (best team in the SEC?) and surprisingly decent Alabama.
|2||BRANDON INGRAM | Duke Blue Devils
Stats:16.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 25.89 PER, 119.8 ORtg
Duke is in its biggest slump in decades here, as the program’s lost three straight games to unranked opponents for the first time since the 1960s. Pretty wild. But Ingram’s production isn’t faltering, really. He averaged 18 points and six rebounds in those losses. In Duke’s hectic home L to Syracuse on Monday night, Ingram posted a double-double (13 and 11). Additionally, he’s shooting above 40 percent from 3-point range this season.
|3||HENRY ELLENSON | Marquette Golden Eagles
Stats: 15.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 20.49 PER, 100.6 ORtg Like Ingram, Ellenson’s team dropped its past two games. Marquette fell at Villanova by 15 and then on its home floor to Xavier by eight. Marquette’s still a year away from being an NCAA Tournament team, and losing to the two best clubs in the Big East is no thing to feel shame over, but unfortunately the upshot of this is how Ellenson’s solid freshman season is starting to get overlooked. He averaged 16 points and 7.5 boards in the two losses.
|4||MALIK BEASLEY | Florida State Seminoles
Stats:17.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 49.0 FG%, 25.51 PER, 122.0 ORtgFlorida State is teasing us again. Beasley and his freshman teammate, Dwayne Bacon, helped the Noles to wins at NC State and vs. Virginia over the past week. Huge outcomes for FSU’s big-term projections. The Seminoles are now one of Jerry Palm’s last four teams in for the latest edition of Bracketology. Beasley put up 19.9 points and 6.0 rebounds in those victories. He’s comfortably in the 4 spot now, where he’s carved out a groove for most of this season. I’ll also note that Bacon’s performance against Virginia solidified him at No. 6; he was getting close to slipping in the overall rankings, but he continues to perform to a level I consider exceedingly important for FSU’s overall profile.
|5||DEDRIC LAWSON | Memphis Tigers
Stats:14.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 20.51 PER, 94.1 ORtg
The Tigers couldn’t afford to lose two more games in a week and still keep Lawson in the top five. So they didn’t. Wins at home against Temple (67-65) and South Florida (71-56) paired with Lawson’s 17.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in those two games keep him steady at No. 5. The problem is his overall shooting. It keeps going down. He was a combined 9 for 31 in his last two games, and on the year Lawson is making shots at a 39.8-percent clip. Gotta bring that up to at least 45 percent.
Next five up: Dwayne Bacon, Florida State; Tra-Deon Hollins, Nebraska Omaha; Caleb Swanigan, Purdue; Diamond Stone, Maryland; James Thompson IV, Eastern Michigan.
Freshman statistical leaders in major categories:
Points: Ben Simmons, LSU (20.0)
Rebounds: Simmons (12.9)
Assists: Tra-Deon Hollins, Nebraska Omaha (5.9)
Blocks: Yankuba Sima, St. John’s (3.06)
Steals: Hollins (4.26)
PER: Simmons (33.68)
ORtg (In highest usage block; min. 28 percent of possessions used): Simmons (120.1)
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