You might notice a bit of a change in our Freshman Watch column this season. We have teamed up with the Wayman Tisdale Award, and so our Freshman of the Week is now the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week. And our Freshman of the Year rankings are now the Wayman Tisdale Award Watch. What is the Wayman Tisdale Award? It's selected annually by the United States Basketball Writers Association and given to the best freshman in the country. The award will be announced in March, and handed out in April in Oklahoma City.
Since the start of the season, LSU forward Jordan Mickey has seen his name in this column on a weekly basis. He has been just outside the top five in the Freshman of the Year watch all season, proving himself as one of the most consistent newcomers in the country.
Last week, though, Mickey took it to another level in two big games -- and is this week's National Freshman of the Week as a result.
It started in Tuesday's showdown against Kentucky and the Wildcats' big man duo of Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein. Mickey finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots. Overall, he was the best freshman on the country that night, which is certainly saying something given the Wildcats' crop of newcomers.
Mickey took it up a notch over the weekend against Arkansas. Going against fellow freshman Bobby Portis, Mickey went for 22 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks, shooting 9-for-17 from the field and controlling the interior. For the week, Mickey averaged 18.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.5 blocks, while shooting 14-for-25 from the field and 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.
On the season, the 6-foot-8 Texas native is averaging 13.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.8 blocks, shooting 56.3 percent from the field and an impressive 74.2 percent from the free-throw line.
He will continued to be overshadowed within the SEC by Kentucky's stud group of freshmen and on a national level by the future top-five draft picks, but Mickey has shown for three months that he is one of the best freshmen in the country -- at both ends of the floor.
By the way, Texas guard Isaiah Taylor was the runner-up again this week; that's now two weeks in a row that Taylor finished second in the running for Freshman of the Week honors. He had 23 points in the weekend upset of Kansas.
Other standout freshman performances this week included: Isaiah Taylor, Texas (23 points vs. Kansas); Andrew Wiggins, Kansas (29 points, seven rebounds vs. Iowa State); QJ Peterson, VMI (37 points, 15 rebounds vs. UNC-Asheville, 31.0 ppg in two games); Andrew Rowsey, UNC-Asheville (33.5 ppg in two games); Jabari Parker, Duke (18.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg in two games); Tyler Ennis (16.0 ppg, 7.0 apg in two games); James Young, Kentucky (21.5 ppg, 9-21 3PT in two games); Chris Perry, South Florida (15.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg in two games); E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island (20 points, four assists vs. Fordham); Hallice Cooke, Oregon State (20 points, three assists vs. UCLA); Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina (19.5 ppg, 4.5 apg in two games); Jamall Robinson, Hofstra (12.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg in two games).
- Nov. 12: Julius Randle, Kentucky
- Nov. 19: Jabari Parker, Duke
- Nov. 26: Jabari Parker, Duke
- Dec. 3: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
- Dec. 10: Chris Perry, South Florida
- Dec. 17: Jordan Woodard, Oklahoma
- Dec. 24: Jabari Parker, Duke
- Dec. 31: James Young, Kentucky
- Jan. 7: Marcus Foster, Kansas State
- Jan. 14: Wayne Selden, Kansas
- Jan. 21: Joel Embiid, Kansas
- Jan. 28: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Wayman Tisdale Award Watch
1. Tyler Ennis
Stats: 12.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.7 apg, 2.3 spg, 39.1 3PT%
Comment: Ennis moves into the No. 1 spot after helping lead the Orange to a thrilling win over Jabari Parker and Duke on Saturday night. The Canada native had 14 points and nine assists, while also shooting 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. He also went for 18 points and four assists in a win over Wake Forest last week.
Stats: 18.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 46.0 FG%, 37.7 3PT%
Comment: For the first time in months, Parker drops from the No. 1 spot in the rankings. He had been solid lately, putting up three straight double-doubles before going for 15 points and nine rebounds in the loss to Syracuse. However, his shooting numbers have taken a hit -- in the past four games, Parker is 21-for-60 from the field and 2-for-11 from 3-point range.
Stats: 16.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 44.7 FG%
Comment: Wiggins followed up his Freshman of the Week-winning performance with 29 points and seven rebounds in a win over Iowa State, positioning himself for back-to-back honors. However, he went just 2-for-12 from the field in the weekend loss to Texas -- finishing with seven points and five rebounds. He was still assertive, though.
Stats: 16.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 52.9 FG%
Comment: Randle drops in the rankings -- but it's not really for anything he did poorly. Sure, he's not putting up the nightly double-doubles he was earlier in the season, but Randle has still been relatively efficient offensively and on the glass. He had 18 and nine against Missouri, but struggled for six points and five rebounds against LSU.
5. Joel Embiid
Stats: 11.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.7 bpg, 63.6 FG%
Comment: Embiid didn't put up monster numbers last week, instead averaging 11.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in two games -- a win over Iowa State and a loss to Texas. Against the Longhorns, Embiid couldn't get going offensively, shooting jsut 3-for-9 from the field. He also blocked three shots on the week, and averaged just 2.5 fouls.
Next in line: Aaron Gordon, Arizona; Jordan Mickey, LSU; Bobby Portis, Arkansas; Noah Vonleh, Indiana; Marcus Foster, Kansas State; James Young, Kentucky; Isaiah Taylor, Texas; Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington
Freshman leaders: Points: QJ Peterson, VMI (21.1 ppg); Rebounds: Julius Randle, Kentucky (10.1 rpg); Assists: Kareem Canty, Marshall (6.5 apg).