One of the most impressive aspects of AJ Griffin's standout freshman season for Duke is that his incredible 49.1% 3-point shooting mark transcends venue. In a season that has seen college basketball's home-court advantage return at full throttle with raucous environments making life difficult on road teams, Griffin has cooly translated his marksmanship to opposing arenas.
Last week, the 6-6 wing hit 9 of 17 tries from deep in Duke's road wins over Virginia and Syracuse to continue an excellent offensive run and earn this week's CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week honors. Griffin scored 13 points in a revenge victory over the Cavaliers and was particularly clutch down the stretch in that game before going for 20 on 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range against the Syracuse zone on Saturday.
With the ACC and NCAA Tournaments approaching, Duke's ability to win away from Cameron Indoor Stadium will be tested. But Griffin's 29-of-51 mark (56.9%) from 3-point range in nine ACC road games leading into Tuesday's game at Pittsburgh suggests he will be just fine in the postseason. He joins Paolo Banchero and Trevor Keels among the group of Duke freshmen to earn Freshman of the Week honors this season.
CBS Sports has once again teamed up with the United States Basketball Writers Association and its Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award to present this every-Tuesday feature. Each week we'll start by announcing the national Freshman of the Week honoree. The cycle for FOTW runs Tuesday-Monday.
Previous FOTW winners
- Nov. 30: Paolo Banchero, Duke
Dec. 7: Reyne Smith, Charleston
Dec. 14: Aminu Mohammed, Georgetown
Dec. 21: Kendall Brown, Baylor
Dec. 28: Paolo Banchero, Duke
Jan. 4: Malaki Branham, Ohio State
Jan. 11: Blake Wesley, Notre Dame
Jan. 18: TyTy Washington, Kentucky
Jan. 25: Caleb Houstan, Michigan
Feb. 1: Tyrese Hunter, Iowa State
Feb. 8: Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
Feb. 15: Trevor Keels, Duke
Feb. 22: Jabari Smith, Auburn
These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball this season.
1. Jabari Smith | Auburn
Stats: 16.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3.0 APG
Smith is averaging 25.3 points per game over Auburn's last four, but the Tigers are just 2-2 over that span. A common refrain among the pundits this season is that Smith should get more shots and become the primary focus of Auburn's offense, but the past four games bring that theory into question. Smith is phenomenal and will need to hit big shots this month, but maybe Auburn really is at its best when the buckets get spread around. Nonetheless, his recent offensive run catapult him past Banchero for the top spot in the season-long rankings.
2. Paolo Banchero | Duke
Stats: 16.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.7 APG
Banchero is shooting just 35.9% from the floor over his last eight games, but it hasn't impacted the Blue Devils too much. Duke is 7-1 over that span and closing in on an ACC title. Banchero will need to regain his January form if Duke is going to reach its full potential this month. One encouraging sign: he hit 4 of 7 from 3-point range against Syracuse's zone on Saturday.
3. Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga
Stats: 14.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.5 BPG, 43.8% 3PT
Saint Mary's held Holmgren to just six points and six rebounds in Gonzaga's loss to the Gaels on Saturday night. It was his quietest offensive night since a Dec. 18 win over Texas Tech. Holmgren has taken major strides during WCC play, however, and continues to be a shot-blocking menace even on the rare occasions when his offensive contributions are subdued.
4. AJ Griffin | Duke
Stats: 10.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 49.1% 3PT
Griffin continues to light it up from 3-point range. The 6-6 wing hit 9 of 17 tries from deep in wins at Virginia and at Syracuse last week. Griffin has reached double figures in six straight games and in nine of his last 10 to help make up for some of teammate Paolo Banchero's recent poor shooting nights. In total, he's averaging 14.6 points on 52.7% 3-point shooting over Duke's last 10 contests.
5. Blake Wesley | Notre Dame
Stats: 14.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG
Wesley is a huge reason why Notre Dame's at-large candidacy for the NCAA Tournament is strong and why the Fighting Irish are on Duke's heels in the ACC title race. The 6-5 guard is a big-time bucket-getter who has rebounded nicely from a slump in late January and early February.
Stats: 13.6 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.2 SPG
Chandler continues to key a great second half of the season for Tennessee. The shifty point guard finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a win at Missouri last week and followed up with 13 points in a victory over Auburn on Saturday. His 2.2 steals per game rank second nationally among freshmen.
7. TyTy Washington | Kentucky
Stats: 12.3 PPG, 4.0 APG, 1.2 SPG
Washington looked rusty in the first half of Kentucky's loss at Arkansas on Saturday as he came off the bench in his first game back after missing two contests due to a lower leg injury. If not for a couple bouts with injury this season, Washington would be higher in this ranking because he's flashed elite two-way chops on several occasions.
8. Trevor Keels | Duke
Stats: 11.7 PPG, 3.1 APG, 1.5 SPG
The offense comes and goes for Keels, but he's a mainstay on the floor for the likely ACC champions and will have a chance to shine on the national stage this month. The physical 6-4 guard has made at least one 3-pointer in all but one of his 26 appearances this season.
9. Malaki Branham | Ohio State
Stats: 12.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 44.1% 3PT
Branham has exploded over the last two weeks, averaging 23.3 points in Ohio State's last four games. The Buckeyes are 2-2 over that span, but it certainly bodes well that Branham is hitting his stride entering March. The 6-5 guard is streaky but has surpassed 30 points twice this season, including in a big win at Illinois last Thursday.
10. Jalen Duren | Memphis
Stats: 11.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG
Duren has met his his five-star hype while helping key Memphis' resurgence over the past six weeks. The bruising 6-11 center has reached double figures in nine straight games and has recorded multiple blocks in four straight games. If the Tigers wind up snagging an at-large bid, his play will be a huge reason for it.