Freshman rankings: Duke's Zion Williamson is Freshman of the Week and a new name cracks Frosh Watch top 10

CBS Sports is once again teaming up with the United States Basketball Writers Association and its Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award. Every Tuesday we announce a national Freshman of the Week winner in addition to our Frosh Watch, which is a ranking of the top 10 most statistically impressive freshmen in men's Division I college basketball.

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Duke's Zion Willimason is the CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week. USATSI

Freshman of the Week: Zion Williamson, Duke

If Zion Williamson is to catch Trae Young's Frosh Watch record of four Freshman of the Week nods, getting one this week might have been pivotal. This is Williamson's second FOTW award this season (Dec. 4 being the other), and he earned it due to his play on both ends of the court in Duke's impressive 72-70 win at home over previously undefeated Virginia.

Williamson had 27 points, nine rebounds, two steals and shot 10-of-16 from the floor. He also provided his best block of the season to date.

And, though there's a lot of competition already, this seems like his best highlight of the season so far. Yes, even above the 360-degree windmill he pulled off vs. Clemson

On a night where Duke was playing its most anticipated game of the season, against an opponent that might be the best in college basketball and one that defeated Duke on its home floor last season, Williamson and teammate RJ Barrett provided 57 total points and pulled the team to its most impressive win of the season.

No Tre Jones, yet not a problem. Williamson's agility, strength and athleticism on display in the Virginia game very well may have shut the door once and for all on the No. 1 pick conversation. It may no longer even be his to lose, given his outrageous numbers and uber-consistent play. Williamson is now averaging 1.21 points per possession, which is a fantastic number when you factor in how little 3-pointers are a part of his repertoire. 

FROSH WATCH 

These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball.

1. ZION WILLIAMSON, Duke

Key stats: 21.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.0 spg, 41.2 PER

Zion Williamson is taking a half-dozen fewer shots than his star counterpart RJ Barrett this season, on average, but his impact elsewhere -- blocking shots, swiping balls on defense -- coupled with his sky-high efficiency have locked him in at the No. 1 spot all season in our Frosh Watch. He leads the NCAA with a 41.2 PER, and for a second week in a row, he notched a new career-high in points scored when he dropped 35 in a loss to Syracuse. He's only scratching the surface of his offensive potential, and yet he's still putting up 21.5 points per game because of how he wields his big body to get to the rim at will.

2. RJ BARRETT, Duke

Key stats: 23.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 4.1 apg

There's still a few weeks left of regular season games to be played, so nothing is certain, but it's looking more and more like Barrett and Williamson have separated themselves from the rest of the Frosh Watch field. What Barrett did in leading the offense vs. Virginia (30 points on 19 shots, plus five rebounds and three assists) was an important step forward for Duke's national title chances. Barrett is responsible for 35.4 percent of Duke's shots when he's on the floor, which ranks 13th in volume in college hoops. 

3. ANTOINE DAVIS, Detroit

Key stats: 27.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 111.3 ORtg

This is a Frosh Watch record: there has never been a player from a single-bid league to reach as high as No. 3 in our rankings. Antoine Davis, who won FOTW two weeks ago, is flirting with history. Few players have ever averaged 27.0 points or more as a freshman. What's more, Davis has 91 3-pointers in 19 games. Barring injury, he's going to be the record holder for most treys by a freshman in D-I history. Can he catch Stephen Curry's all-time record of 162? 

4. ROMEO LANGFORD, Indiana

Key stats: 17.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg

Romeo Langford's Hoosiers have dropped four-straight and slid into dangerous territory within the Big Ten, potentially damaging future NCAA Tournament hopes, but Langford has continued to be a nightly force for Archie Miller and Co. He's now averaging 17.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for IU. His lone performance this past week, a four-point, three-board outing against Purdue was a dud, but he remains a bona fide top-five frosh this season.

5. KELDON JOHNSON, Kentucky

Key stats: 15.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.8 spg, 58.4 eFG%

Don't look now, but Kentucky, led by freshman Keldon Johnson, is quietly surging in the SEC. The Wildcats have won four straight in league play after an 0-1 start, and get Mississippi State and Kansas at home, opportunities to surge back into the top-five of the rankings with two wins. Johnson has played an integral role in UK's rise, scoring 20 points and grabbing three rebounds on Saturday to hold off Auburn's fast and furious comeback. He's shooting an efficient 50.9 percent from the floor and 39 percent from 3-point range on an eFG% of 58.4.

6. JAYDEN GARDNER, East Carolina

Key stats: 19.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 0.9 spg

Jayden Gardner was our Frosh of the Week last week following his jumbo 35-and-20 game against UCF. He followed that game up Wednesday with a 27-and-8 performance, boosting his per game numbers to a sensation 19.8 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Pirates.

7. LAMINE DIANE, Cal State Northridge  

Key stats: 23.9 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 25.2 PER

Cal State Northridge's star freshman, Lamine Diane, is second on our Frosh Watch in points scored per game, first in rebounds per game, and third in blocks per game. He makes his impact felt all over the court, and has climbed up to a 26.2 PER on the season. He put up 28 points and 16 boards on Thursday against Hawaii, then followed it up Saturday by playing 40 minutes and scoring 21 and grabbing nine rebounds.

8. IGNAS BRAZDEIKIS, Michigan

Key stats: 14.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 114.3 KenPom ORtg

Ignas Brazdeikis has seen better days. His only game this past week came against Wisconsin, which handed Michigan its first loss of the season, and Brazdeikis was a no-show with his first goose-egg of the season: 0 points, 0 assists and 0 steals. He did pull down three rebounds and logged one block, but he missed all five of his shot attempts -- including an 0-for-3 mark from 3-point range -- in the Wolverines' fall. Still yet, his team-leading 14.8 points per game speaks to his impact on fifth-ranked Michigan.

9. CHARLES BASSEY, Western Kentucky

Key stats: 14.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 26.2 PER

Bassey's been a shot-swatting machine for Western Kentucky, throwing back 2.4 per game en route to recording a 9.1 percent block rate, according to KenPom, which rates 43rd nationally on the season. His eFG% and TS% of 65.6 and 68.0 rate inside the top-25 in both categories nationally, a testament to his efficiency for the 10-9 Hilltoppers who notched wins over Florida Atlantic and Marshall this past week.

10. JAXSON HAYES, Texas

Key stats: 10.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 132.2 ORtg

Jaxson Hayes makes his Frosh Watch debut. Hayes isn't a per-game monster, but from an efficiency standpoint he's one of the best freshmen the sport has. His PER checks in at an outstanding 28.9, and he's got an effective field goal percentage of 76.0, which ranks near the top of the sport. The 11-7 Longhorns have a chance to establish themselves as a top-half-of-the-league team in the Big 12 if Hayes continues to be a factor on both ends. His defense is just cracking the shell. 

Previous Freshman of the Week winners:

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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