|Baylor big Isaiah Austin is averaging 17.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in his last four games. (US Presswire)|
Hope everyone had a great New Year's Eve, and welcome back to the rankings. The top five is the same exact quintet from last week, although there has been some shuffling. Shabazz Muhammad continues to move up as his scoring exploits become more explosive, and it looks like Marcus Smart is back on the upswing. Keep an eye on Baylor's Isaiah Austin making a move toward the rankings in the coming weeks.
I also want to clear a couple of things up here, relating to the criteria of the rankings. This is not a top five based on NBA potential -- which is why Kentucky hasn't had three players in every set of rankings. It's based on production and impact on the season to date. Will Kentucky have someone in the top five come March? Most likely. But right now, there are five guys more deserving.
The Freshman of the Year rankings are released on Tuesdays, along with the Player of the Year rankings.
|1. Anthony Bennett -- UNLV|
|2. Marcus Smart -- Oklahoma State|
|3. Ben McLemore -- Kansas|
|4. Shabazz Muhammad -- UCLA|
|5. Jahii Carson -- Arizona State|
Others to Note:
- No change in the top five, but there are still plenty of guys ready to pounce if any of the quintet start struggling. The last guys on the chopping block this week included Kentucky's Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel, UCLA's Jordan Adams, St. John's forward Jakarr Sampson and Michigan's Nik Stauskas.
- The guy to watch for in next week's rankings, though, could be Baylor center Isaiah Austin. After starting slow because of injuries, he's now averaging 17.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in his last four games. He racked off three straight double-doubles, then had 20 points and eight boards against Gonzaga.
- Steven Adams of Pittsburgh has been pretty raw offensively, although he is shooting better than 62 percent from the field. However, he's really making an impact on the boards, averaging 8.2 over his last five games. He ranks third in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage.
- Notre Dame's Cameron Biedschied has been up and down, but he's effective when he gets minutes. He's coming off a game in which he had 15 points in 20 minutes. In early December, he had 17 points in 17 minutes against Brown.
- Just a note: Solomon Poole became eligible for Georgia Tech in mid-December, and he's still getting his legs used to college basketball. He's totaled eight points in three games.
- Siyani Chambers of Harvard looked like the Phil Pressey of the Ivy against California. He went 2-for-15 – but had nine assists and made important players in the win. He had 16 and seven against Saint Mary's on Monday night too.
- UNCG's Kayel Locke might not look like much – he's about 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds – but he's effective. He gets great position and can finish. In his last three games, he's averaging 14.3 points and 4.3 rebounds.
- Freshman leaders – Points: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (19.6); Rebounds: Jordan Reed, Binghamton (10.1); Assists: Javan Felix, Texas (6.6).