TyTy Washington has been solid all season for No. 12 Kentucky, offering consistent scoring contributions while proving to be a great secondary ball-handler and a better all-around player than any of the ballyhooed freshmen the Wildcats had last season. But up until this weekend, he'd produced his most impressive work against the lesser foes on UK's schedule.
That all changed during Kentucky's historic 107-79 win over Tennessee on Saturday that improved the Wildcats to 14-3 (4-1 SEC). Washington poured in a career-high 28 points on 10 of 13 shooting as UK posted its best shooting percentage for a game in John Calipari's 13-year tenure as coach. The fact that it came against a team that entered ranked No. 2 in defensive efficiency by KenPom.com made it all the more impressive.
Washington's play was key to the effort, and it extended beyond the eye-catching scoring numbers. The 6-foot-3 guard added five assists and three steals to earn CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week honors. Washington was effective in transition, hit a couple of 3-pointers off the dribble in half court sets and managed to find sharpshooter Kellan Grady in stride for some huge buckets. The former five-star prospect is living up to his billing, and Washington's performance against Tennessee was evidence that UK has the perimeter firepower it needs to be a serious national contender this season.
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
These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball this season.
1. Paolo Banchero | Duke
Stats: 17.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.3 APG, 34% 3PT
Banchero had another huge week, albeit against foes ill-equipped to defend a player of of his caliber. The 6-10 forward scored 24 points in Duke's win over Wake Forest and followed with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a win over NC State. Aside from the cramping issues he dealt with early in the season, Banchero has been an incredibly consistent and steady producer for a team that seems destined to win the ACC.
2. Jabari Smith | Auburn
Stats: 16.1 PPG, 1.5 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 44.2% 3PT
Smith scored a game-high 25 points, had seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals in an 81-77 win at Alabama last week. He followed up with 15 points in a win at Ole Miss on Saturday to help the Tigers reach for the first time in Bruce Pearl's eight-year tenure as coach. The 6-10 forward is a phenomenal 3-point shooter and is proving to be an unselfish teammate who makes winning plays all over the court.
3. TyTy Washington | Kentucky
Stats: 14.5 PPG, 4.8 APG, 4.2 RPG, 41.1% 3PT
Washington has been on the rise in the freshman rankings, but we were waiting for him to break out against a quality opponent. He did so on Saturday with 28 points, five assists and three steals on 10 of 13 shooting in Kentucky's 107-79 blowout victory against Tennessee. The standout play of UK's 6-3 guard is a big reason why the Wildcats suddenly look like a national contender.
4. Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga
Stats: 13.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.3 BPG, 38.6% 3PT
Holmgren needed just 13 shots to score 23 points in two games this past week as the Zags throttled BYU and Pepperdine. Holmgren hasn't looked like a college superstar as frequently as Smith and Banchero, and Washington has been more productive as of late. But he continues to play efficient offense, swat shots on defense and lead the team in rebounds. His 3-point shooting percentage is climbing as well.
5. Blake Wesley | Notre Dame
Stats: 14.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.3 APG
Wesley followed up on his freshman of the week honors by scoring 20 points in Notre Dame's win over Clemson on Wednesday. He was just 4 of 12 in the Fighting Irish's loss at Virginia Tech on Saturday but continues to be a difference-maker for his team. He is starting to get some serious draft buzz as well, which would have been hard to fathom a few months ago for a player ranked No. 118 in the 247Sports Composite.
6. Trevor Keels | Duke
Stats: 12.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.9 SPG
Keels has been knocking on the door of the freshman rankings for a while, and he finally gets in after consecutive double figure games last week. Keels also finished with nine assists and five steals in Duke's win over NC State on Saturday. Even though his 3-point shot is a work in progress, he's impacting the game in other ways for a top-10 team.
7. Terquavion Smith | NC State
Stats: 14.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 35.6% 3PT
Smith rebounded from an 0 for 7 outing against Clemson on Jan. 8 by scoring 24 points on 9 of 13 shooting in a huge win at Louisville last Wednesday. He followed up with 19 points in a loss at Duke on Saturday to find his way back into the rankings after dropping out last week.
Stats: 13.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, 2.3 SPG, 35.7% 3PT
Chandler quietly scored 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting in Tennessee's blowout loss at Kentucky. The Volunteers are trending in the wrong direction, and it's clear that Chandler's size and athletic limitations put a cap on what he can do to save them. But overall, he's been solid and should have some more big games ahead against some of the SEC's lesser opposition.
Stats: 10.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 51.3% FG
Don't look now, but Florida State is on a three-game winning streak and has won five of six entering Tuesday's home game against Duke. One of the reasons for its recovery from a slow start has been the play of Cleveland, who is averaging 13.4 points on a ridiculous 63.2% shooting in FSU's last five games.
10. Kendall Brown | Baylor
Stats: 10.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 SPG
Brown is averaging just 4.8 points per game in Big 12 play and had seven turnovers in Baylor's losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State last week. A phenomenal start to the season keeps him in the rankings for now, but perhaps there is some correlation between his disappearance and the Bears' struggles.