Freshman rankings: RJ Barrett overthrows Zion Williamson for No. 1, CS Northridge's Diane is FOTW

This season, CBS Sports again teamed up with the United States Basketball Writers Association and its Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award. Each Tuesday we've announced 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. This is the final edition of 2018-19.

lamine-diane-fotw.jpg
Cal State Northridge's Lamine Diane is the CBS Sports / USBWA Freshman of the Week. USATSI

Freshman of the Week: Lamine Diane, CS Northridge

The 15th and final Freshman of the Week award goes to a previous winner. It was a weird week for CS Northridge coach Mark Gottfried. His name was connected to the FBI scandal in a significant way, and the Matadors lost their final two games of the regular season ... but Lamine Diane was awesome again. 

He's our Freshman of the Week, an easy call, after averaging 33.5 points, 15.5 rebounds on 26-of-50 shooting against UCSB and UC Irvine. Diane won the Big West's Player and Freshman of the Year awards. He's the first player in league history to do that after becoming just the second player in Big West history to lead the league in scoring, blocked shots and rebounding; former Pacific standout Michael Olowokandi did it in 1997-98 before becoming the No. 1 pick of that year's NBA Draft.  

Well-earned. If Diane opts to return and becomes an efficient player, he'll be one of the 30 best in college basketball -- easily. 

By the way, since Zion Williamson was not able to return in the final 2 1/2 weeks of the season, that means Trae Young still holds the Frosh Watch record for most Freshman of the Week awards in one season with four. 

FROSH WATCH 

These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball.

1. RJ BARRETT, Duke

Key stats: 23.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.2 apg

Heading into the Duke-UNC rematch on Saturday, it didn't seem likely RJ Barrett could leapfrog Zion Williamson in the Watch. But availability is a part of ability, and this is not a Player of the Year award. The Watch is about statistical consistency and impact. Zion Williamson was available for 81 percent of Duke's games in the regular season. RJ Barrett was available for all of them. That six-game difference wound up giving Barrett the slightest of edges. Check out their stat totals for the season.

Barrett: 724 points, 130 assists, 233 rebounds, 24 steals, 13 blocks, 95 turnovers, 58 fouls.

Williamson: 561 points, 57 assists, 229 rebounds, 57steals, 48 blocks, 61 turnovers, 51 fouls.

Need more convincing?

Barrett now owns the records for:

  • Most points by a freshman in Duke and ACC history (724)
  • Being fastest to 700 points in school history
  • Having the most 20-point games as a freshman in Duke and ACC history (23)
  • Most points scored at home in a single season in Duke history (402)

He's also one of just two players in the country averaging at least 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists (Justin James, Wyoming). Barrett earned this. 

2. ZION WILLIAMSON, Duke

Key stats: 21.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 130.2 KenPom ORtg

Do not be alarmed. Zion at No. 2 is a knock only on his lack of availability and also a reward for RJ Barrett for his endurance to play nearly every minute for Duke all season. Williamson's missed all of five consecutive games (six if you include the game he was injured in the first minute). After a two-week hiatus, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is expecting him to make a return this week in the ACC Tournament.

3. ANTOINE DAVIS, Detroit

Key stats: 26.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.6 apg

Two of the top-five scorers this season -- Campbell's Chris Clemons and South dakota State's Mike Daum -- are among the nine most illustrious scorers in NCAA Division I history. Two of the others -- Hofstra's Justin Wright-Foreman and Hampton's Jermaine Marrow -- are upperclassmen. Sandwiched between them is Antoine Davis, who as a freshman this season ranks third in scoring averaging 26.1 points per game. If he plays four seasons and continues at this torrent scoring pace, he'd be pushing Daum and Clemons among the top 10 scorers in Division I history with ease. He casually hung a 30-burger -- his ninth game of 30+ this season -- to cap his strong week against Northern Kentucky.

4. LAMINE DIANE, Cal State Northridge  

Key stats: 24.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.9 apg, 2.1 bpg

Even by the lofty standards we've come to expect from Lamine Diane, he arguably had his strongest two-game run of his career this week. The 6-foot-7 frosh scored 34 points and 33 points in consecutive games against UCSB and UC Irvine, and added a combined 31 rebounds, three blocks and three steals -- including an 18-rebound game against UC Irvine that tied his career-high. Diane leads the Big West in scoring, rebounding, and blocks. He was deservedly named the league's Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year this week.

5. COBY WHITE, North Carolina 

Key stats: 16.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.0 spg

UNC's best freshman had a mini-slump in February, but burst out of it the only way you'd expect him to: by scoring 94 points in four games. This week he scored 11 in an easy win over Boston College, and helped put the nails in Duke's coffin Saturday vs. North Carolina with a stellar 21 point, three assist outing that gave the Tar Heels a share of the ACC regular-season title. To illustrate just how great he's been by the numbers, White has now scored 490 points as a true frosh -- 30 more than the previous UNC record held by a man named Michael Jordan.

6. ROMEO LANGFORD, Indiana

Key stats: 16.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.3 apg

After we all collectively wrote off Indiana and Romeo Langford, the Hoosiers head into the Big Ten Tournament winners of four-straight and with realistic hopes of punching a ticket to the Big Dance. If it happens, IU fans can thank Romeo. For as much turmoil as the team has endured, he's continued to put up excellent numbers; this week in two wins he scored 30 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and made 50 percent of his long-balls.

7. TYLER HERRO, Kentucky

Key stats: 14.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 93.9 FT%

Another surprise in the final week, but you know what? Every Kentucky fan that's watched every game of the season would tell you that, 31 games deep, Herro is the best freshman on the team. The stats finally back it up. Keldon Johnson had the lead on him until the final two or three games of the year. He's also the most accurate foul shooter in college basketball. Will we see Herro elevate to top-five status in the NCAAs? He might need to for UK to make it to Minneapolis. 

8. JALEN PICKETT, Siena 

Key stats: 15.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 6.7 apg

Jalen Pickett has gradually taken on a larger role for Siena as the season has progressed, and it's no surprise Siena improved as the season wore on, too. This week he scored 35 points and dished out 14 assists in the MAAC Tournament, but the Saints fell to eventual MAAC winner Iona in the second round. "We've got to get back on to the drawing board next year and we're going to come back with a MAAC 'ship next year," Pickett promised after Siena's loss over the weekend.

9. KELDON JOHNSON, Kentucky

Key stats: 13.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.7 spg

Johnson's production has tailed off a bit over the last month as Tyler Herro and PJ Washington have stepped into starring roles, but he was great this week. He scored 22 and grabbed seven boards in a four point win over Ole Miss, and followed it up Saturday with 14 points and another seven boards in a nine point win over Florida.

10. CHARLES BASSEY, Western Kentucky

Key stats: 15.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 64.6 eFG%

The race for the final spot was a tight one. But Bassey wins out. He's played in obscurity all year; maybe WKU will manage to win the auto bid in Conference USA and give this former five-star prospect his first moment on a national stage this season. Charles Bassey almost certainly is off to the NBA in a matter of weeks. As a true center, he lived up to his hype.

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

Get Live Coverage of Every Pick

Our Latest Stories