Freshman Rankings: Duke's Zion Williamson looks like he could be ready to pull away from the field in the Frosh Watch

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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Freshman of the Week: Antoine Davis, Detroit

Our easiest pick of the season to date. Detroit's Antoine Davis has been dominating in relative obscurity, but he's unquestionably one of the best freshmen in college hoops. 

He's the CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week in light of averaging 40.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in his past two games last week, highlighted by 48 points vs. preseason Horizon League favorite Wright State. He followed that up with 33 against Northern Kentucky -- maybe the second-best team in the conference.  

As you might know, Davis is the son of Mike Davis, the coach at Detroit. This is all turning into one pretty sweet story.

Interestingly, 48 points for Davis vs. Wright State didn't amount to a program record; 49 is the most in school history. Nevertheless, he was 10 for 15 from beyond the arc in that game, the 10 made 3-pointers being a school record -- that Davis already achieved earlier this season. Forty-eight points in a game also ranks among the highest/best scoring performances by a freshman in Division I in the past 15 years. 

We've got more on Davis below, who continues to rise in the Frosh Watch. He's second in the country in scoring average and has made more 3-pointers (81) than anyone in college basketball. He's hit 30 points in seven of the Titans' 16 games. One season after Trae Young redefined what a freshman scoring sensation could be, Davis is approaching Young's scoring clip.

FROSH WATCH 

These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball through the season so far.

1. ZION WILLIAMSON, Duke

Key stats: 20.2 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.1 spg, 42.1 PER

Fifty-one weeks ago -- so, almost at this point in the college hoops calendar -- I called the Freshman of the Year race. Oklahoma's Trae Young was so far ahead of the competition at that point, there was no stopping him. Sure enough, by the end of the regular season, Young wound up finishing atop the Frosh Watch and was the CBS Sports/USBWA choice for FOY. 

I bring that up to say: Duke's Zion Williamson is almost there now, too. The difference is he's got two players directly behind him who could conceivably make it a close race into February. As good as Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton were last season, they still lagged further behind Young than RJ Barrett and Romeo Langford are, as of today, with Williamson. 

2. RJ BARRETT, Duke

Key stats: 22.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.8 apg

RJ Barrett is Duke's leading scorer, but he's still requiring many more touches to be the impact player he undeniably is. Barrett's 3-point shooting isn't as good as expected (he's at 31 percent on 5.7 attempts per game) and his usage percentage is 33.7, highest in the ACC. Because of his scoring, his left-hand-dominant style, his ability to distribute when he wants, you see some James Harden Lite-type comparisons with Barrett. If he became that as a pro, every team would take it. But let's give him another 3-5 games before really trying to compare apples to apples with how Barrett functions within Duke vs. Harden's role on the Rockets. 

3. ROMEO LANGFORD, Indiana

Key stats: 18.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.6 apg

Langford's firmly in the No. 3 spot now, and it's going to take aggressive regression for anyone to overthrow him. Indiana fell at Michigan on Sunday, but Langford wasn't the reason. He had 17 points on 11 shots, one foul and one turnover. Langford and teammate Juwan Morgan have been what IU fans were hoping they'd be. Without Rob Phinisee available (concussion protocol), Indiana loses an opportunistic guard. But what makes Romeo so critical is how he's able to create for himself but also play within the offense. The 3-point shooting is the problem. Langford basically only makes one out of every four from deep.

4. KELDON JOHNSON, Kentucky

Key stats: 16.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 60.9 eFG%, 123.3 ORtg

We have a new guy in at No. 4. Kentucky's never had a player this good receive such little hype. Johnson is fourth in the SEC in effective field goal percentage and seventh in offensive rating (123.3). Johnson has been almost exactly what John Calipari has needed him to be on offense. Defensively, there's too much inconsistency. It speaks to Johnson's ability as a playmaker, shooter and mover within UK's offense that he's ranked this high, because if he could become a high-level defender, he'd be a sure-fire top-five NBA pick. 

5. IGNAS BRAZDEIKIS, Michigan

Key stats: 16.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 118.0 ORtg

Ignas Brazdeikis has been as high as No. 3 in the Frosh Watch this season, but he drops to No. 5 this week after one of his quieter outings over the weekend. Michigan's 74-63 win against Indiana didn't require much from Brazdeikis, who finished with 10 points and two rebounds. In games this season where Brazdeikis has scored 12 points or fewer (four instances), he's followed up those showings by scoring 19, 20, 23 and 19 points. Good news for Michigan, maybe bad news for Michigan's next opponent: Illinois (on Thursday). 

6. ANTOINE DAVIS, Detroit

Key stats: 27.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 52.1 eFG%

Antoine Davis has made 81 3-pointers in 16 games. That's 5.1 triples per tilt. In a worst-case scenario, Detroit has 15 games left this season. If Davis stays healthy for all those games and even dips down to four 3-pointers on average, that's another 60 3-pointers. So 81 + 60 =  141 3-pointers.

Yeah, the NCAA record for a freshman is 122 by Stephen Curry in 2006-07. 

Davis seems fated to smash this mark. The single-season record for 3-pointers is also held by Curry (162 in 2007-08) but that would probably only be in play if Davis could maintain his current clip and Detroit won a couple Horizon League Tournament games and the school earned its way into the NIT or CBI.  

7. LAMINE DIANE, Cal State Northridge  

Key stats:  24.3 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.5 bpg

From unheralded recruit to a struggling program at Cal State Northridge, Lamine Diane continues to be a bright spot. Davis is second among all freshmen in points per game, behind only Antoine Davis, and he continues to impress in the way in which he produces. He's shooting an efficient 48.1 percent from the floor and doing so with an extremely high usage rate; his 37.2 possession percentage, which KenPom.com uses to calculate personal possessions used while a player is on the court, ranks second among all NCAA basketball players. He also ranks fourth in the country in percentage of shots taken when he's on the court. He capped an impressive week on Saturday by pouring in 35 points and pushing Yale to OT.

8. LUGUENTZ DORT, Arizona State

Key stats: 17.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.6 spg

Arizona State's came crashing back down the Earth after toppling No. 1 Kansas, losing to Princeton and Utah before securing a win over Colorado this weekend, but Luguentz Dort has held steady here. He scored 14 points in each of the Sun Devils' two games this past week and added a combined six rebounds, six assists and two steals. His efficiency has dipped a bit -- he's made only 12 of his last 33 shot attempts -- but he continues to be a disrupter on defense and a driving force on offense, be it by attacking the rim, getting to the free throw line or distributing to teammates.

9. CHARLES BASSEY, Western Kentucky

Key stats: 14.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 67.3 eFG%

Welcome to the Frosh Watch, Charles Bassey! We're carving out room for the 6-11, 245 pound freshman by giving a nod not only to his recent surge, but to his full body of work this season at Western Kentucky, where he is averaging 14.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game for the Hilltoppers. Bassey put up  19 points and six rebounds in WKU's win over No. 15 Wisconsin just before the calendar flipped to 2019, and this past week -- against Charlotte and Old Dominion -- he put up a combined 30 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks. He's been the most dominant freshman big this season, and one of the most impressive mid-major performers of the season.

10. JAYDEN GARDNER, East Carolina

Key stats: 18.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.0 spg, 27.7 PER

Jayden Gardner is also making his debut showing in the Frosh Watch, like Bassey. After what he's shown this season, we simply couldn't keep him out of our top 10. This past week alone he averaged 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game for the Pirates, highlighted by a 13-point, 12-rebound, one-block, two-steal showing in a win over AAC bully Cincinnati. He's averaging 18.4 points and 8.9 rebounds on the season.

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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