Xavier’s Edmond Sumner earns Freshman of the Week honors

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. 22-28: Xavier’s Edmond Sumner.

We normally take a two-game sample size and decree a Freshman of the Week based off the best combined performances from that, but Christmas caused almost all freshman to play just one game in the past week.

With that in mind, the decision goes to an overlooked newcomer who won’t be overlooked much longer. Xavier coach Chris Mack couldn’t have possibly realized the gem he was getting in Edmond Sumner. Sure, he knew he’d be a good player. But this dynamic, this fast? To turn into one of the 10 best freshmen in the country? It’s been one of the bigger surprises of the season so far — Sumner carrying Xavier to an undefeated start to the season.

Sumner beat out Brandon Ingram and Henry Ellenson this week because his team mounted a furious and impressive comeback performance, on the road, against a better opponent than the other two guys played. Sumner put up a career-best 21 points, nine rebounds and a pair of assists and steals in Xavier’s 78-70 win at Wake Forest last Tuesday.

Wherein he did this.

And this.

Sumner is just what Mack needed this season to formulate a well-rounded team with myriad options. Xavier’s off to its best start in school history, and Sumner’s performance against the Demon Deacons, plus the overall consistency of his first seven weeks of play, made it a no-brainer to finally include him in the CBS Sports Freshman of the Year Watch. Scroll down to see where he’s listed.

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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:

19.1 ppg, 13.1 rpg, 5.8 apg, 35.46 PER, 124.3 ORtg

LSU won 79-51 over American last Tuesday, the Tigers’ only contest since our last Frosh Watch update. In that game, Simmons posted 23 points, six assists and a meager-for-him five rebounds. But he also had three steals. Still comfortably at No. 1, but the gap has closed somewhat.

2 HENRY ELLENSON | Marquette Golden Eagles

Stats: 16.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.6 apg, 23.48 PER, 106.8 ORtg Ellenson had another terrific showing, albeit against a bad team. It’s why he and Ingram, despite putting up great lines, didn’t beat out Sumner. Sumner’s performance came on the road. In Marquette’s home game against Presbyterian on Sunday, Ellenson had 17 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals. He’s a fiend.
3 BRANDON INGRAM | Duke Blue Devils

Stats:

14.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 25.43 PER, 115.4 ORtg

Ingram was outstanding in Duke’s ridiculous blowout on Monday night at home. The Blue Devils beat Elon 105-66 in a game that saw Ingram score 26, grab 11 rebounds, notch three steals and come all the more close to challenging the two guys above him. We’re about a week away from a legitimate three-player race if Simmons doesn’t go off and Ellenson keeps at the pace he’s at.

4 DEDRIC LAWSON | Memphis Tigers

Stats:

15.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 23.77 PER, 98.6 ORtg

Lawson went for nine rebounds, six points, five assists and a pair of steals in Memphis’ win over IUPUI last Tuesday. His blocks and rebounds average are second in the AAC, while his usage percentage is third. Memphis plays Tulane on Tuesday night.

5 MALIK BEASLEY | Florida State Seminoles

Stats:

17.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 52.2 FG%, 27.88 PER, 126.4 ORtgBeasley hasn’t played since last week’s update. He and teammate/No. 6 on the Frosh Watch, Dwayne Bacon, go up against Florida on Tuesday night. A win there would do some really positive things for the Seminoles. This team and its newbie duo are still cruising under the radar, despite consistent pub in this space every week.

Next five up: Dwayne Bacon, Florida State; Caleb Swanigan, Purdue; Allonzo Trier, Arizona; Edmond Sumner, Xavier; Tyler Lydon, Syracuse.

Dropped out: Jamal Murray, Kentucky.

Freshman statistical leaders in major categories:

Points: Ben Simmons, LSU (19.1)
Rebounds: Simmons (13.1)
Assists: Tra-Deon Hollins, Nebraska Omaha (6.1)
Blocks: Yankuba Sima, St. John’s (3.54)
Steals: Hollins (4.07)
PER: Simmons (35.46)
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
Week 5: Dwayne Bacon, Florida State

Edmond Sumner has been a total surprise and a big factor for undefeated Xavier. (USATSI)

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