The first month of the 2023-24 college basketball season has come and gone. Conference play for some leagues has already started and the top first-year players in the sport are separating themselves from the rest.
USC star guard Isaiah Collier debuted at No. 1 in our weekly Frosh Watch rankings and has maintained that top spot during the last three weeks. The Trojans have been looking shaky, but Collier has maintained his strong start to the season. In the latest , Collier was projected to be the first player selected.
While the top of the list remains unchanged with Collier and Baylor's Ja'Kobe Walter holding their spot, there is some serious movement for the first time this season. UConn star freshman Stephon Castle has only played in two games due to an injury and is expected to return Tuesday when the reigning national champions face North Carolina. Castle dropped out of the rankings for the first time this season, but will have a strong chance to jump back in if he plays the way he did to start the season.
Let's jump into our rankings and get to our CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week for the the 2023-24 college basketball season
Freshman of the Week: Myles Rice, Washington State
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 every-Tuesday feature. Each week we'll start by announcing the national Freshman of the Week honoree. The cycle for FOTW runs Tuesday-Monday.
Everyone loves a feel good story and Rice certainly fits that bill. However, he is still a really, really good basketball player. Washington State was the lone program from a major conference to offer Rice out of high school and the move is certainly paying off. Rice didn't play during the 2022-23 season, as he was receiving chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was diagnosed in September 2022 and went into remission earlier this summer.
Rice is a major reason why Washington State is off to a 6-1 start. He scored 28 points in a 82-72 win over Eastern Washington last week and followed it up with a 19-point and five-rebound performance in a win over Portland State. Rice has scored in double-figures in six out of seven games this season. The lone game Rice failed to reach double-digits in scoring was against Rhode Island on Nov. 19, where he left the game because of injury.
Let's jump into this week's rankings. But first, here's a look back at the previous rankings thus far this season and the winner of each Freshman of the Week.
Frosh Watch: Top five freshman rankings
1. Isaiah Collier, USC
Stats: 17.3 PPG | 4.5 APG | 3.0 RPG | 52.2% FG
Collier's scoring numbers from last week (15 and 14 points) were below his season average, but the reason he's still No. 1 is his assist numbers are up and his turnovers are down. Collier recorded six assists in both games last week and turned the ball over only five times, which is by far his best two-game stretch of the season. While Collier has been an elite downhill scorer, his passing is considered his biggest strength. If he continues to limit his turnovers, the sky's the limit.
2. Ja'Kobe Walter, Baylor
Stats: 14.9 PPG | 4.0 RPG | 1.5 SPG
Walter is on a cold streak. In a blowout win over Nicholls State, Walter had his worst performance of the season by shooting 1 of 8 from the floor in 29 minutes. He followed it up with a more respectful performance against Northwestern State by scoring 10 points and recording a season-high four steals. Walter didn't need to perform at his best due to the competition and a game against Seton Hall on Tuesday could be a good bounce-back opportunity.
3. Malik Mack, Harvard
Stats: 20.4 PPG | 4.4 APG | 4.0 RPG
The leading scorer from his class continues to put up monster numbers. Mack scored 26 points and added five rebounds and three assists in a win over American to raise his scoring to 20.4 points per game. Mack has scored in double-figures in all nine games this season and has amassed 20+ points in five of those contests. He has been one of the biggest surprises from this cycle.
4. Reed Sheppard, Kentucky
Stats: 13.9 PPG | 4.5 RPG | 3.9 APG | 61.9% FG
Welcome to the rankings, Reed Sheppard. The Kentucky freshman has been electric during the first month of the season. When you think of players from the Wildcats top-ranked recruiting class, Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw or D.J. Wagner may come to mind, but Sheppard and Rob Dillingham have both been consistent. Sheppard put up 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a loss to UNCW. Sheppard ranked as the No. 79 overall recruit by 247Sports and has certainly outplayed his ranking thus far.
Stats: 14.0 PPG | 3.6 RPG | 2.0 APG | 62.3% FG
Another newcomer to the rankings is Cody Williams. The brother of Oklahoma City Thunder star Jalen Williams was highly touted coming out of high school as the No. 4 overall recruit by 247Sports and showed flashes of that five-star ranking last week. Williams had consecutive 21-point performances against Colorado State and Pepperdine and is starting to become an even bigger part of the Buffaloes offense. In CBS Sports' latest mock draft, Williams was the No. 17 selection.