Freshman rankings: Indiana's Trayce Jackson-Davis is Freshman of the Week, rises in Frosh Watch
IU's had top-10 freshmen in back-to-back seasons, with Jackson-Davis becoming even better than Romeo Langford
Welcome to the Frosh Watch, our weekly ranking of the 10 most impressive freshmen in college basketball. 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 open with the national Freshman of the Week honoree.
CBS Sports / USBWA Freshman of the Week
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS, INDIANA: A significant 2-0 week for bubble team Indiana saw Jackson-Davis step up and deliver, helping IU increase its chances of making its first NCAA Tournament under Archie Miller. The 6-foot-9 power forward from Greenwood, Indiana, had back-to-back double-doubles, averaging 20.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in the Hoosiers' wins against Minnesota and Penn State.
Against Minnesota, Jackson-Davis had one of the best games of any freshman this season, going for career-bests in points (27) and boards (16), plus two swats. He was opportunistic and solid defensively in Indiana's 68-60 Sunday home win over the Nittany Lions. Jackson-Davis has been a staple in our top 10 all season, and he's grown into Indiana's most indispensable player, turning into the kind of valuable frosh that Romeo Langford was expected to be before lingering injuries limited his impact last season.
The school notes that IU is 9-0 this season when Jackson-Davis scores at least 10 points and grabs at least 10 rebounds. His impressive week has also given him a bump in the Frosh Watch.
So let's get to that now.
These are the top 10 freshman performers through 17 weeks of play.
1. VERNON CAREY JR., Duke
Key stats: 17.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.5 bpg | Last week: No. 1
Duke took its first loss in a month this past week, falling on the road to NC State in the most lopsided loss to an unranked opponent for the Blue Devils in Mike Krzyzewski's 40-year tenure. That Duke was in position to go more than a month without losses to begin with speaks to Carey's all-around impact; he's a bonafide top-10 player in the sport and the unquestioned No. 1 on a Duke team vying for a No. 1 seed come March, leading the team in points, rebounds, blocks, blocks and field goal percentage. Even in the NC State loss, he managed 27 points and 12 boards, his 13th double-double of the season.
Key stats: 18.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.9 apg | Last week: No. 3
On Saturday, Edwards had his Jadeveon Clowney moment. By that I mean: instantly memorable, physically undeniable, immediately epic perma-highlight-reel-worthy display of dominance in a meaningless game. Edwards did this against poor Vanderbilt.
Heck of a thing from someone who will be the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 pick in this year's NBA Draft. Georgia had a good week, averaging 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks. He nearly took Freshman of the Week, as UGA managed to win against ranked Auburn and Vandy. The Vandy win came on a half-court buzzer-beater from Tyree Crump.
3. ZEKE NNAJI, Arizona
Key stats: 16.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 59.2 eFG% | Last week: No. 2
on Nnaji, who in addition to being an elite freshman is also an elite musician. So often, so many of these players are much more than hoopers, and Nnaji is a prime example. He's got a wonderful story to go with a wonderful talent; he could have a future in music whenever he wants, seemingly. As for his play of late, Nnaji is averaging 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in Arizona's past four games.
4. ONYEKA OKONGWU, USC
Key stats: 16.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.8 bpg | Last week: No. 5
It'd be nice to see a talent like Okongwu in the NCAA tourney, but the Trojans just took a hit. With two straight losses in road play against Colorado and Utah, Southern Cal is 19-9 and facing vital win opportunities this week against the Arizona schools. Okongwu returned for the games last week after missing two due to concussion protocol. He totaled 39 points and 17 rebounds. Guy just knows how to get his.
Key stats: 16.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.2 bpg | Last week: No. 4
Washington's gone nowhere fast, having lost nine of its last 10 games, but Stewart has managed to find consistency amidst the chaos. He's scored in double figures in 11 of his last 12, recording multi-block performances all but thrice during that span. It's too bad the Huskies have fallen out of relevancy, but credit Stewart for fighting through the team's struggles. As a projected first-rounder, it's in vogue to shut down if your team has nothing to play for, but he's keying a defense that leads the country in block rate. Staying competitive on the court as Washington struggles should buy him some favor with scouts.
Key stats: 14.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.9 bpg | Last week: No. 8
Have yourself a week why don't ya, Trayce Jackson-Davis? He's managed to lead Indiana into a projected 9 seed in Jerry Palm's most recent bracket projections by keying the Hoosiers to critical wins this week over Minnesota (on the road) and No. 9 Penn State (at home), scoring 27 and 13, respectively in those outings. That'll do. He was his usual efficient self in those efforts, too, and he's comfortably sitting at No. 2 in the Big Ten in field goal percentage.
Key stats: 15.2 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.8 bpg | Last week: No. 6
Memphis kept its at-large hopes alive by getting wins over East Carolina and, much more importantly, Houston. At 19-8, the Tigers are a quintessential bubble team at the moment. Achiuwa was once again Memphis' best player, leading Penny Hardaway's team with 34 points and 18 rebounds total in those two wins. He made 69% of his shots last week as well. Achiuwa is now a lock to finish in the Frosh Watch by season's end.
Key stats: 13.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.2 bpg | Last week: No. 9
Even as Illinois has fallen out of the frontrunner spot in the Big Ten title race, Cockburn's steady hand has kept the Illini together amidst a cluster of February losses. Now, he's got them back on the right track after two wins over Penn State and Nebraska this past week in which he combined for 29 points and 17 boards, doing so while drawing the duress of extra defensive attention. His impact continues to go well beyond the box score, all the while his box score production remains elite.
9. LANDERS NOLLEY, Virginia Tech
Key stats: 16.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.5 apg | Last week: No. 7
Things have gotten ugly in a hurry for Virginia Tech, which went from 14-5 overall to 15-12 over the last month. Nolley's production overall has dipped a bit, too, with his stellar 3-point accuracy and two-way impact taking a small hit during that stretch, but he's still holding steady in the Frosh Watch given his overall body of work this season. Even as the Hokies regress closer to preseason expectations, Nolley has personally outperformed what many expected he was capable of.
"Basketball players go through little cycles like this," said Virginia Tech coach Mike Young this week of Nolley's recent struggles. "It's really important to him. Nobody wants to come out as much as he does. We need him to. But we'll hang in there with him. He'll come out of it."
Key stats: 16.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.4 spg | Last week: Unranked
Don't look now, but Chris Beard has Texas Tech tweaked and ready for March on the heels of a magical run to the NCAA championship game a season ago. Surprise, surprise. That tweaking from Beard has coincided with Ramsey's renewed focus in Tech's offense, as he's hit double figures in his last eight and scored 20 or more in three of those. The way he's progressing, Ramsey looks like the next underrated high school prospect to go to Tech and develop into a first-round talent. If he keeps this up, he may mess around and take the Red Raiders back to the promised land of the Final Four, where they've been just once in the history of their program.
Previous FOTW winners:
- Dec. 3:
- Dec. 10:
- Dec. 17:
- Dec. 24:
- Dec. 31:
- Jan. 7:
- Jan. 14:
- Jan. 21:
- Jan. 28:
- Feb. 4:
- Feb. 11:
- Feb. 18:
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