No. 15 Saint Mary's improved to 21-4 on the season and a perfect 10-0 in WCC play over the weekend in taking down the league's bully, No. 16 Gonzaga, thanks to a heroic second half and overtime showing from true freshman Aidan Mahaney in crunch time. Mahaney started slow with just two points on seven shots in the first half, but came alive as the Gaels mounted an 11-point comeback sparked by his 16 points in the second half and overtime.
Mahaney has consistently been one of the top 10 newbies in college basketball and his performance on a big stage finally lands him some proper due as this week's Freshman of the Week. A local recruit from Moraga, California, he signed with Saint Mary's as a three-star recruit with little fanfare but has come on of late as a difference-maker for a top-15 Gaels team that looks primed to potentially win the league's regular-season race for the first time since 2016.
Mahaney is now averaging 15.0 points on the season, ranking top 10 among all freshmen, and doing so with a 41.6% hit rate from 3-point range that ranks top-20 in his class. The only two freshmen who are averaging at least 15 points and hitting at 41% from 3-point range or higher this season are Alabama's Brandon Miller -- the best freshman in the sport this season -- and Ohio State star Brice Sensabaugh.
Let's dive into the rankings this week.
Freshman of the Week: Aidan Mahaney, Saint Mary's
Welcome back to the Frosh Watch, our weekly ranking of the five 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 weekly feature. Each week we'll start by announcing the national Freshman of the Week honoree. The cycle for FOTW runs Tuesday-Monday.
For years it has been Gonzaga dominating the WCC and bullying its conference foes while garnering national attention as the top team in the conference. This year the tide has slowly turned a bit, with Saint Mary's up two games in the WCC standings on the Zags and the Gaels riding a 12-game winning streak that ranks as the second-longest active streak in the sport. Mahaney's been a huge part of that run in blossoming into a tough shot maker, and he came up big when the Gaels needed him vs. Gonzaga.
"Mahaney hit some tough runners," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We tried everybody on the roster on him. He hit them over his best defender, which is Anton [Watson], made three over him. They were tough shots; he hit them. He deserves a lot of credit."
Saint Mary's has two tough road tests on deck this week and a season finale vs. the Zags in The Kennel, so the race for the WCC crown is far from over. But Mahaney's emergence this season as a stud freshman and a Gonzaga killer (at least in the first matchup) has given the Gaels an edgy flair of fun like we rarely see from non-Zags WCC teams.
Now, without further ado, let's jump in to this week's rookie rankings -- with a brief pit stop highlighting the previous Freshman of the Week winners this season:
- Nov. 22: Anthony Black, Arkansas
- Nov. 29: Fletcher Loyer, Purdue
- Dec. 6: GG Jackson, South Carolina
- Dec. 13: Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas
- Dec. 20: Brandon Miller, Alabama
- Dec. 27: Cason Wallace, Kentucky
- Jan. 3: GG Jackson, South Carolina
- Jan. 10: Jarace Walker, Houston
- Jan. 17: Brandon Miller, Alabama
- Jan. 24: Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State
- Jan. 31: Jarace Walker, Houston
Frosh Watch: Top five freshmen rankings
Miller extended his streak of double-digit scoring games to 13 over the past week with 22 points in Alabama's 101-44 evisceration of Vanderbilt and 11 in Saturday's 79-69 win at LSU. The 6-foot-9 forward continues to lead the SEC in scoring, and he remains money from the outside. Against the Commodores, he drilled 6 of 13 attempts from beyond the arc. Though he was quieter against the Tigers, he finished with 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Miller is long, versatile, plays both ends of the floor and should be regarded as frontrunner for SEC Player of the Year as he leads a Crimson Tide squad that is projected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Filipowski and Duke struggled in an 81-59 loss at Miami on Monday, but the 7-footer knocked down a 3-pointer for an eighth straight game as he continues to demonstrate the versatility which made him the No. 4 prospect in the Class of 2022. In a win over Wake Forest on Tuesday Filipowski finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season. He can play center or power forward for the Blue Devils and has been the best player in a top-ranked Duke freshman class that has been through some ups and downs.
Dick had a couple of quiet performances last week before going off for 21 points on 7 of 11 shooting in the Jayhawks's 88-80 win over Texas on Monday night. The 6-8 wing helped sustain Kansas on a slow night for primary scorer Jalen Wilson as he continued a streak of 24 straight games with a made 3-pointer to begin his college career. Dick's best skill is his outside shot, but he beats defenders off the dribble, uses his length to collect steals and is a capable defender.
George turned in the most efficient offensive performance of his career on Saturday in Baylor's easy win over Texas Tech. The 6-4 guard made 7 of 11 shots from the floor and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc to help the Bears improve to 17-6 and 6-4 in the Big 12. He is an explosive offensive player who would be scoring even more for a lesser team. But for Baylor, he is just one member of a menacing backcourt that also features veteran stalwarts Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer.
Things have gone from bad to worse for Ohio State, which has lost nine of its last 10 games. But even as the Buckeyes' limp through the Big Ten, Sensabaugh continues to produce. Since entering the starting lineup in early December, he is averaging 18.9 points on 50.2% shooting, including 46.5% shooting from 3-point range. The physical 6-6 wing is work in progress on defense, but he can score from anywhere on offense and has all the makings of a first round NBA Draft pick.