With only two more Freshman of the Year rankings to be released, the race is seeing its most shuffling in a long time.
Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart has vaulted from No. 3 to No. 1, as he continues to play well and carry the Cowboys to near the top of the Big 12 standings. He has played as well as anyone in the country over his last 10 games, and his ability to make plays at both ends of the floor and come up big toward the end of games separates him from the rest. Moreover, UNLV's Anthony Bennett has been struggling a bit lately, and he has a possible injury to watch for too, and Kansas's Ben McLemore is slumping toward the finish line. There is still time to make up ground, though, with each player heading into the final stretch of the season. For what it's worth, we close up Freshman of the Year rankings before the NCAA tournament.
As always, the Freshman of the Year rankings are released on Tuesdays, along with the Player of the Year rankings.
|1. Marcus Smart -- Oklahoma State|
|2. Anthony Bennett -- UNLV|
|3. Ben McLemore -- Kansas|
|4. Jahii Carson -- Arizona State|
|5. Shabazz Muhammad -- UCLA|
Others to Note:
- There could be some shuffling at the No. 5 spot the final couple of weeks. Muhammad leads freshmen in scoring, but there a few guys nipping at his heels: Michigan State's Gary Harris, St. John's JaKarr Sampson and others.
- Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein averaged 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.0 blocks in two games last week. He's not Nerlens Noel, but he's got a chance to really come into his own.
- Rasheed Sulaimon of Duke has provided plenty of extra pop the past couple of weeks, averaging 20.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in his last three games, shooting 21-for-38 in that span.
- Muhammad has been getting most of the UCLA attention, but Kyle Anderson is playing well again after some inconsistency. He averaged 14.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the last two games.
- Omar Calhoun is becoming a consistent third option for Connecticut, scoring in double-figures in six straight games. In that span, he's averaging 14.8 points.
- If Binghamton's Jordan Reed stays atop the America East in both scoring (16.8) and rebounds (9.5), he would be the first freshman in the 34-year history of the league to do it.
- Boston University has a good one in Maurice Watson. He's scored in double-figures in nine of his last 10 games, while also being a consistent distributor. Watson is going for 13.1 points and 6.7 assists in his last 10.
- NC State's T.J. Warren averaged 20.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in his last two games.
- Before struggling in his last two games, Purdue big man A.J. Hammons had averaged 17.4 points and 8.4 boards in his previous five contests.
- We've seen flashes from
Memphis'sShaq Goodwin throughout the year, and he had a dynamite game against Southern Miss over the weekend: 19 points, five boards, five assists, two blocks.
- New Mexico State's Sim Bhullar is more known for being 7-foot-5, but he's been playing well lately. In his last seven games, Bhullar is going for 12.1 points and 9.0 boards.
- Freshman leaders -- Points: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (18.2); Rebounds: Shawn Long, Louisiana-Lafayette (10.4); Assists: Siyani Chambers, Harvard (5.9).