It's become no surprise when any one of Duke's three five-star freshmen lead the team in scoring or do something statistically remarkable during a game. Paolo Banchero is the headliner with his versatility and steady stream of double-doubles, and AJ Griffin has come on strong in recent weeks with 3-point marksmanship. But last week, the spotlight belonged to Trevor Keels.
Since returning at the end of January after missing three games with a calf injury, the 6-foot-4 guard has been playing some of his best basketball of the season, and that was certainly the case in Thursday's 82-64 win over Clemson, when he finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Keels scored 23 of his points in the second half and became just the sixth player in Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's 42-year tenure to finish with 25 points and 10 rebounds in a game without committing a turnover.
Duke is now 15-1 when Keels reaches double figures after he followed up on the Clemson performance with 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting in the Blue Devils' win at Boston College on Saturday. Those back-to-back performances earned him the CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week for games played Feb. 8-14.
"I feel like I'm getting back to myself," Keels said after the Clemson game. Missing three games is tough, especially when you can't be out there with your brothers and fight. But inside the locker room, Wendell [Moore Jr.] talked to me before the game and was just like, 'Play like yourself.' It really helped me. He even said something to me at halftime…I think that's what's special about this group, everybody wanting each other to succeed. It really got to me. I said to just play like myself out there and that's what I did."
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
These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball this season.
1. Paolo Banchero | Duke
Stats: 17.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.6 APG
Banchero bounced back from a quiet night in Duke's loss to Virginia last Monday with consecutive double-doubles in wins over Clemson and Boston College. His 3-point percentage is down to just 31.6%, but he has four double-doubles in his last six games. The versatile 6-10 forward is in the mix for ACC Player of the Year and remains a part of the conversation around who will be selected No. 1 overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.
2. Jabari Smith | Auburn
Stats: 15.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 39.7% 3PT
Smith's shooting percentages have taken a hit in the past few weeks, and when he's been off is when his team has looked vulnerable. But the versatile 6-10 marksman showed off his clutch gene with a couple of big shots to keep the Tigers in it late before they faltered at Arkansas last Tuesday. He remains a matchup problem for every opponent in the SEC and a lock for first-team All-SEC honors.
3. Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga
Stats: 14.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 46.6% 3PT, 3.3 BPG
Holmgren has reached double figures in all 10 of Gonzaga's WCC games as he continued his season's strong second half with another efficient week. The 7-footer finished with his fourth double-double in the last five games on Saturday with 11 points and 13 rebounds in the Bulldogs' win over St. Mary's. Holmgren is shooting a ridiculous 58.3% from 3-point range against league opponents.
4. TyTy Washington | Kentucky
Stats: 12.8 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.8 RPG, 34.6% 3PT
Washington suffered a leg injury in the second half of UK's win over Florida on Saturday, and his status for this week is uncertain. Injuries aside, it's been an excellent season for the 6-3 guard who serves as a secondary ball-handler, fierce defender and capable scorer. If Washington hadn't been hurt in the first half of UK's loss at Auburn on Jan. 22, it's fair to wonder if the SEC title race might look a little different.
5. AJ Griffin | Duke
Stats: 9.6 PPG, 48.8% 3PT, 3.5 RPG
Five of Duke's last six games have been on the road, and Griffin is 15 of 27 from 3-point range during that span. That bodes well for the Blue Devils during the postseason as it's clear that Griffin's touch travels beyond the confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium. The 6-6 wing reached double figures in wins at Clemson and Boston College last week.
6. Blake Wesley | Notre Dame
Stats: 14.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.6 APG
Wesley has emerged from an offensive slump and is back to filling it up for the Fighting Irish. He scored 21 points and 7 of 12 shooting in a win at Clemson on Saturday. That included a 5 of 6 mark from 3-point range. The 6-5 guard's emergence as an offensive force is a major reason why Notre Dame is on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble entering the week.
Stats: 13.1 PPG, 4.8 APG, 2.3 SPG
Chandler put his two-way chops on display with 18 points and five steals in a win at Mississippi State on Wednesday as he continues to spearhead one of the country's best defenses. The 6-foot speedster has been steady all season for a Tennessee team that has won seven of its last eight.
8. Kendall Brown | Baylor
Stats: 10.0 PPG, 61.7% FG, 5.0 RPG
Brown continues to prove that he is an elite role player, which is impressive for a freshman. The bouncy 6-8 wing finished with 10 points and eight rebounds in a big win over Texas on Saturday and continues to do all the little things well for the Bears. More may be asked of Brown and fellow freshman Jeremy Sochan after a season-ending injury to key big man Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua.
9. Trevor Keels | Duke
Stats: 12.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.5 SPG
Keels has been great since getting his wind back from a calf injury that forced him to miss three games. The physical guard is averaging 15.3 points over Duke's last four games and hit 8 of 15 from 3-point range in that span. He finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds in a win at Clemson on Thursday.
10. Jalen Duren | Memphis
Stats: 11.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.2 BPG
Duren has posted double-doubles in all three games he's played since returning from a hand injury for resurgent Memphis. The 6-11 center finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds in a massive win at Houston on Saturday and seems to be hitting his stride at the right time for a Tigers squad that is fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid.