Freshman rankings: Duke's Zion Williamson is increasing his lead each week for the freshman of the year award

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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Zion Williams capped a solid week with 26 points vs. Notre Dame. USATSI

Freshman of the Week: Zion Williamson, Duke

What do you want us to do? It's Williamson again, and there's no one with a real case against him. Since last week's Frosh Watch, Williamson played three games, averaging 24.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.7 blocks, 1.7 steals and only 1.3 turnovers. 

Duke defeated Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, two of those three coming on the road. Williamson was on the floor for an average of 33.6 minutes in those three games and shot a ridiculous 81.1 percent (30 for 37), which includes 2-of-5 3-point shooting. 

We need to shake ourselves from being numbed by the numbers. Williamson is so efficient, he's making the aberrational seem routine. He's shooting 75.1 percent from 2-point range this season, which is by far the best among all players who've taken at least 150 attempts; Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke is closest in that realm, at 70.4 percent on 196 attempts. Williamson's making three-fourths of his shots from inside the 3-point line -- and he's take 213 of them.

His performance on both sides of the ball last week easily earned him his third Freshman of the Week honor. He's now one away from matching Trae Young's single-season record. 

FROSH WATCH 

These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball.

1. ZION WILLIAMSON, Duke

Key stats: 21.7 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 41.4 PER, 132.1 KenPom ORtg

Zion Williamson has hit the 25-point mark nine times this season, which is a Duke record for a freshman. We'll see if RJ Barrett, who's done it eight times, can match or surpass as February arrives. (Marvin Bagley III previously held the record of eight as well.)

For all of the deserving pub Tre Jones gets for being an outstanding defender, Williamson still seems like the best on that end of the floor for Duke. He's one of the only players in college basketball who can truly and effectively guard all five positions. He displayed again on Monday night how adroit he is in handling an opposing point guard. 

2. RJ BARRETT, Duke

Key stats: 23.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.9 apg

RJ Barrett made all three of his chances to shine this week count, as Duke went 3-0 with two crucial road wins. During that span, Barrett averaged 22.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game to further validate his standing as the clear-cut No. 2 among all college freshmen. He continues to take a high volume of shots for Duke -- according to KenPom, he takes 35.2 percent of attempts available when he's on the court, ranking 12th in the country among all players -- but he's still doing so at a relatively efficient clip. And most importantly, Duke keeps winning; the Blue Devils are 18-2 after dismantling Notre Dame on Monday night.

3. ANTOINE DAVIS, Detroit

Key stats: 27.3 ppg, 3.5 apg, 1.0 spg

Antoine Davis missed his first game of the season on Saturday against IUPUI with an undisclosed injury, but he made a strong statement in his lone game this past week by dropping 28 points and knocking down 5-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc. Davis this season is now shooting an effectual 41 percent from the 3-point line and 42.2 percent from the floor, all while recording a usage rate of 36.6, ranking him fourth among all college players.

4. ROMEO LANGFORD, Indiana

Key stats: 17.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg

Romeo, Romeo, you've been great, but wherefore hath thou team's season gone? With Langford experiencing a turbulent month overall, Indiana has taken a nosedive in the Big Ten with six straight losses. He's still been solid overall this season and shown everything NBA scouts will love about him at the next level -- his size and physical profile is perfectly projectable, as is his defensive versatility and scoring instincts -- but he's dropping a bit in our Frosh Watch because he's been up and down. He's just 22-of-60 from the floor shooting in his last five games, and 3-of-16 from the 3.

5. KELDON JOHNSON, Kentucky

Key stats: 14.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 118.3 KenPom ORtg

As we look around college hoops this season, it's clear that the freshman class isn't exceedingly strong. In fact, there's a significant drop-off from the top two of the Watch -- but that's not to shortchange the impact of a lot of other players.

What's intriguing about Keldon Johnson is how solid he's been -- and he's stayed in our top five for almost the entire season here at the Watch -- and yet he's probably the most "anonymous" UK standout ever under Calipari. This is an oddity, considering UK is now a top-10 again, has lost just three times and hasn't been out of the news cycle. But Johnson has been somewhat quietly going about his business. His first big moment is probably coming in February. 

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Kentucky
Keldon Johnson and Kentucky have knocked off three top-25 teams in three consecutive games. Mark Zerof / USA TODAY Sports

6. JAYDEN GARDNER, East Carolina

Key stats: 18.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 28.1 PER

East Carolina's on the decline, having lost five-straight, but Jayden Gardner's stock is rising. Fresh off 35-point and 27-point performances last week, he followed it up with a bit of a disappointing eight-point, four-rebound outing against AAC bully Houston. Then he went off, scoring 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in 35 minutes against South Florida. From top to bottom on the stat sheet and off it, Gardner remains one of the most productive freshmen this season.

7. LAMINE DIANE, Cal State Northridge  

Key stats: 23.5 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg

Lamine Diane is dominating in obscurity, but he's still easily cracking our top 10. We've been tracking nearly 50 of the best freshmen in college hoops this season, and Diane still rates top-five among them in points, rebounds and blocks. Northridge -- or CSUN, as the locals call it -- is 9-12 and has a 3-2 record in the Big West. 

8. COBY WHITE, North Carolina 

Key stats: 14.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.2 rpg

Coby White has shot UNC back into the top 10 of the polls -- and himself squarely into the top 10 of the Watch. Against No. 10 Virginia Tech last week he scored 27 points, the second-most of his green career. He also made five of his 11 3-point attempts, dropped six dimes and grabbed seven rebounds, all marks above his season averages.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at North Carolina
Coby White and UNC have won seven of their last eight games dating back to Christmas. Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

9. IGNAS BRAZDEIKIS, Michigan

Key stats: 15.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 23.1 PER

After putting up a goose egg in the stat sheet in points scored, steals and assists in Michigan's first loss of the season to Wisconsin last week, Ignas Brazdeikis returned to production with a very nice week. Against Minnesota he went just 4-of-18 from the floor, but was active in attacking the basket on both ends, drawing out 11 free-throw attempts, making 11, and grabbing 11 boards. Against Indiana on Friday, he found success from the floor by knocking down 8-of-12 shots and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc in a 20-point, seven-rebound night. With the way he's scored and paced the top-5 Wolverines, he's entrenched himself in this list all season.

10. CHARLES BASSEY, Western Kentucky

Key stats: 14.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 65.9 eFG%

Charles Bassey doesn't have the boom-or-bust capability Trae Young had last season or Antoine Davis does this season, but he's been a steady 15-and-10 all season for Western Kentucky. This week he averaged 15 points and 12.5 rebounds per game as the Hilltoppers went 1-1, and Bassey missed only four shots during that stint. His eFG% rates among the highest of freshmen in the NCAA all season, and he's been a dominant rim-protector, too.

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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