Handing out grades for how college basketball's top freshmen performed in their first week
You wouldn't have known it was the first college games for many of these fantastic freshmen
North Carolina freshman Cole Anthony in his college debut, Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey had the best debut of any freshmen under John Calipari, and Memphis big man James Wiseman casually dropped 28-and-11 in his first college game. Turns out, it was a great week to be a blue-chip freshman in college basketball's opening week.
We can't quite make sweeping judgments from what we've seen from any of them so far (although some have tried), but we've certainly seen enough, small sample size and all, to draw some way-too-early conclusions from each of their games. And so that's what we'll do. We won't even wait a full semester; it's time to hand out early grades from what we've seen in some of the sport's young stars a week into the season. Let's get to the report cards.
1. Cole Anthony, North Carolina
Stats: 27.0 PPG | 10.5 RPG | 5.0 APG
Review: He doesn't quite have the same mop as his predecessor, Coby White, but Cole Anthony's two games have shown us he's equally electrifying. The goggled gunner scored 34 in UNC's season-opening win over Notre Dame and followed it up with a 20-and-10 in his second outing, a win at UNC Wilmington. It's possible the Tar Heels lost Coby White to the NBA and still managed to upgrade their point guard position.
Stats: 26.5 PPG | 7.0 RPG | 3.5 APG
Review: In 60 minutes of on-court play this past week, Anthony Edwards scored 53 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and had seven steals. He's been the most productive freshman in the SEC and easily the least discussed. When he starts doing this damage against opponents more talented than The Citadel and Western Carolina, he'll start getting his due as the bona fide star he is.
3. James Wiseman, Memphis
Stats: 19.7 PPG | 10.7 RPG | 3.0 BPG
Review: On the court, James Wiseman was a monster with 19.7 points per game, nine blocks and 76.9% shooting from the floor in three contests. Off the court, Wiseman's first week as his draft status.. But, we're only grading on-court results and Wiseman's performance grade is as big a slam dunk
4. Nico Mannion, Arizona
Stats: 16.0 PPG | 6.5 APG
Review: Unlike Maxey and Anthony on this list, Nico Mannion started off slow with a nine points and four assists vs. Northern Arizona in Arizona's opener. The Wildcats won 91-52, and he wasn't needed. When he was needed -- Sunday against a talented Illinois team -- he delivered with 23 points, nine assists and two steals, outperforming Illini sophomore Ayo Dosunmu, who figures to be a potential lottery pick like Mannion. We'll excuse the NAU dud; what he did against the Illini was enough to earn him an A.
Stats: 15.5 PPG | 6.0 RPG | 3.0 BPG
Review: Whoo boy, is Isaiah Stewart fun. In a come-from-behind win over No. 16 Baylor in UW's season-opener, he fueled the Huskies with 15 points, seven boards and immeasurable energy down the stretch. Against a really talented Baylor frontcourt, he more than held his own, establishing himself as a force in the post. He followed it up four days later with 16 points, five blocks and boards against Mount St. Mary's. It feels like I'm probably generous on the grade scale, but I can't give this anything other than an A.
6. Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky
Stats: 16.7 PPG | 3.7 RPG | 1.3 SPG
Review: After a 26 point explosion on opening night that paced Kentucky to a win over No. 1 Michigan State, I was prepared to unload all the hyperbole on Tyrese Maxey -- best UK freshman ever, most talented scorer, etc. I may have been ahead of my skis. He followed that up with nine and 15-point performances against Eastern Kentucky and Evansville. Respectable, sure, but a reminder to pump the brakes. His on-court performance has still been solid despite the crash back to earth. He gets a B+ for that; I'm docking him down to a B- overall though after Kentucky lost to Evansville this week as 24.5-point favorites.
7. Jaden McDaniels, Washington
Stats: 11.5 PPG | 8.5 RPG | 3.5 APG
Review: Against Mount St. Mary's, Jaden McDaniels struggled, making just two of his nine shots from the floor and committing five turnovers. It wasn't a lost week for him, though. His report card is still passable after he managed 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks as the co-catalyst behind Washington's win over Baylor.
8. Scottie Lewis, Florida
Stats: 6.5 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 2.0 BPG
Review: The view of Scottie Lewis this season and in the short-term is that he's more prospect and potential than productive, and he did nothing to dissuade that notion with an opening week in which he averaged 6.5 points and 3.0 rebounds for the Gators. Even against Florida State -- a 63-51 loss -- he struggled on offense, missing all four of his shot attempts. It's on defense where he remains the biggest asset, but one steal and four blocks in two games isn't enough to overcome his lackluster offensive production early on.
9. Vernon Carey Jr., Duke
Stats: 13.0 PPG | 6.3 RPG | 1.3 BPG
Review: Through three games this season, Vernon Carey has scored it an average rate, rebounded at a slightly above average rate, and fouled at a record rate. He fouled out in 15 minutes of action against Colorado State and logged three fouls in fewer than 25 minutes of play against Duke and UCA, which has him with more fouls than blocks, assists and steals ... combined. It's his biggest knock thus far and is reflected in his three-game sample grade.
10. De'Vion Harmon, Oklahoma
Stats: 10.3 PPG | 3.3 RPG | 50% 3-point FG
Review: The Sooners are off to a 3-0 start to their season, thanks in no small part to early contributions from their freshman point guard De'Vion Harmon. He didn't score a point in OU's win over Oregon State earlier this week, which gets him a dock on the report card, but he scored a combined 31 points in consecutive wins over UTSA and Minnesota to start the season, including a 23-point season debut. If he can become a steady scorer he'll be one of the best and most underrated freshmen in college basketball this season.
CBS Sports HQ Daily Newsletter
Get the best highlights and stories - yeah, just the good stuff handpicked by our team to start your day.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
The Buckeyes are 9-0 with three wins over top-25 KenPom teams by at least 25 points
Bassey was leading the Hilltoppers in blocks, points and rebounds before sustaining an injury...
Only one team drops out, but there's a lot of movement within the top 25
Louisville and Kansas stayed steady at Nos. 1 and 2, while OSU moved up to No. 3
The Tar Heels slip out of the top 10 after falling to Virginia 56-47 on Sunday
Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander also discuss North Carolina's struggles