Welcome back 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'll start by announcing the national Freshman of the Week honoree. The cycle for FOTW runs Tuesday-Monday.
Freshman of the Week: Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham
Oklahoma State's rookie sensation gets the nod running away after a well-rounded week in which he finished with two wildly different statistical outcomes in two wins for the Cowboys. The first came in a closer-than-expected tilt against in-state Oral Roberts last Tuesday, as he posted a career-high 29 points to keep his Cowboys from crumbling at home as heavy favorites. Cunningham scored 16 of his 29 points in the final seven minutes of play and took over the game late to ward off a potential upset.
Cunningham then followed that up with a middling performance by his own standards in a road game against Wichita State, but his finish, not his start, is what put him over the edge for our Freshman of the Week honors. After being held scoreless in the second half against the Shockers, he drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer with under 10 seconds remaining, which served as the difference in the 67-64 road win for his squad.
These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball for this the season.
1. Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
Key stats: 18.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.8 APG, 23.3 PER
There were lofty expectations for Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2020 recruiting rankings and the early favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, and already he's exceeded them thus far. He's scored in double figures in each of his five games this season, and helped Oklahoma State claim huge road wins over Marquette and Wichita State in the early going of the season. He's not -- and likely won't -- be the scoring leader among freshmen this season. But the combination of his creation, vision and two-way impact has him atop our rankings debut.
2. Jalen Wilson, Kansas
Key stats: 15.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 37.9 3p%
After a redshirt season at Kansas, Jalen Wilson looks like KU's best player by a wide margin thus far. He's averaging 15.3 points and 8.7 boards per game as Kansas has jumped out to a 6-1 start to its season headlined by huge wins over Kentucky and Creighton. In two the games KU has played against ranked foes, Wilson has posted career-high 23-point outbursts, with his 23 points and 10 rebounds against Creighton last week fending off a potential Creighton upset in Allen Fieldhouse.
3. Evan Mobley, USC
Key stats: 17.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.0 BPG
The list of players in college hoops this season who are averaging at least 17 points and 3.0 blocks per game begins and ends with Evan Mobley. The USC product is already making a profound impact on both ends of the court as a dynamic defensive disruptor and efficient scorer. He's already posted two double-doubles on the season and is coming off his most complete game of the season against UC Irvine in which he poured in 22 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks (!) in 31 minutes of play.
Evan Mobley looked like a #1 overall talent last night with 22 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals, 2 3PTM— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) December 9, 2020
Pretty much a showcase of everything NBA teams want today in a center—open-floor ballhandling, shooting, faceup playmaking, rim protection with foot speed to switch pic.twitter.com/olD5nkvvME
4. Cameron Thomas, LSU
Key stats: 21.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 36.8 3p%
On a team that returned Trendon Watford and Ja'Vonte Smart -- LSU vets with NBA upside -- true freshman Cameron Thomas has looked like the team's best player. Thomas, the highest-ranked signee from LSU's 2020 recruiting class, is a super-scoring presence for the Tigers who thus far hasn't been held below 16 points in five outings. He scored 27 points in his college debut against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and is coming off a humble 19-point outing in a blowout win over Sam Houston State.
5. Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
Key stats: 13.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 6.3 APG
Gonzaga hasn't played a game in two weeks after shutting down over COVID-19 concerns, but we aren't faulting Jalen Suggs, who has been extraordinary in the limited time his team has been active. He burst onto the scene in Gonzaga's season-opening win over then-No. 6 Kansas with 24 points and eight assists and followed it up with 12 points, six dimes and four assists in a shellacking of Auburn. Fortunately, he seems to have escaped a serious injury scare against West Virginia, so we should be in store for a treat with Suggs running the show for the top-ranked Zags.
6. Hunter Dickinson, Michigan
Key stats: 15.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 BPG
Dickinson earned his first start in Michigan's Big Ten opener on Sunday against Penn State after averaging 14.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks off the bench through five games. He proved worthy of the honor by leading the team with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and collecting seven rebounds in a 62-58 win over the Nittany Lions. That performance earned the 7-1 center his second straight Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor.
7. Justin Powell, Auburn
Key stats: 16.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.4 APG
As the highest ranked of five freshmen in Auburn's 2020 recruiting class, Sharife Cooper was supposed to be the star newcomer on a rebuilding Auburn team. But with Cooper not yet eligible, that title has gone to Powell, who was just a three-star prospect. The 6-5 guard is shooting an astounding 53.3% from 3-point range through five games and is the leading scorer for the Tigers after turning in consecutive 26-point games in wins over South Alabama and Memphis.
8. Brandon Boston, Kentucky
Key stats: 14.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.4 spg
Little has gone according to plan during Kentucky's 1-4 start, but it's not because the Wildcats lack talent. Despite struggling from 3-point range, Brandon Boston is leading UK in scoring while also helping out on the boards. His 84.6% free-throw percentage suggests that the shooting will eventually come around. When that happens, it will be clear why Boston was the No. 5 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite.
9. Moses Moody, Arkansas
Key stats: 16.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG
The Razorbacks have played a light schedule, but it's still impressive that a team almost entirely reliant on newcomers is 6-0. Moses Moody is a big part of the reason why as he's led the team in scoring while hitting an efficient 48.4% of his shots, including 40.7% of his 3-pointers. The next challenge will be translating his game to SEC play.
10. Terrence Clarke, Kentucky
Key stats: 13.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.6 APG
Terrence Clarke is second on the team in assists, and coach John Calipari said after Saturday's loss to Notre Dame that Clarke is poised to handle more of the point guard duties for Kentucky moving forward. He was ranked just behind Boston in the 247Sports recruiting rankings, and the two will be tasked with playing a leading role in turning Kentucky's season around as the Wildcats seek to develop a more functional offense.