Ranking college basketball’s best freshmen: Kentucky’s Cason Wallace earns Freshman of the Week honors

We’re seven weeks deep into the 2022-23 college basketball season, six weeks deep into the Frosh Watch and today announcing our sixth separate winner of this week’s Freshman of the Week — Kentucky’s Cason Wallace. It’s a sign of just how much great young talent the sport is enjoying this season.

Our weekly freshmen rankings have had a lot of mainstays in the top five with Brandon Miller of Alabama and Gradey Dick of Kansas separating themselves as the clear top two in the early going this season, but we’ve had plenty of turnover, too, with GG Jackson of South Carolina coming into his own, Wallace flashing moments of stardom and plenty of others pushing for inclusion.

The sport is in great shape and getting better as first-year players across the country slowly and consistently grow into bigger roles, which makes whittling our list down to just five every week a near-impossible task. But David Cobb and I have each cast our own ballots and landed on a fresh five for the week. So let’s dive into this week’s results by introducing Wallace for his first weekly honor as Freshman of the Week.

Freshman of the Week: Cason Wallace, Kentucky

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.

Kentucky’s offense this season has been painful and bordering on malpractice given the talent on the roster, but Wallace has been one of the few bright spots. That continued this week as he poured in a career-high 27 points in a 20-point win over Florida A&M. Wallace went 10-of-15 shooting from the field, 5 of 6 from 3-point range and tied a career-high with nine assists to boot.

“He made shots,” said UK coach John Calipari. “We’ve got to keep working with him as he plays point. Decision-making, seeing the court better. But what he did [vs. FAMU] was taking shots. He’s a terrific player.”

Without further ado, let’s jump into this week’s rankings. But first, here’s a look back at the previous rankings so far this season and the winner of each Freshman of the Week.

Frosh Watch: Top five freshmen rankings

1. Brandon Miller, Alabama

Stats: 19.3 PPG | 8.7 RPG | 2.0 APG | 44.2% 3PT

Miller is tied atop the SEC in points per game with LSU’s KJ Williams as league play begins, and he leads all freshmen nationally in scoring. The lanky wing is a lethal 3-point shooter with a deep bag of offensive skills that make him a matchup nightmare and likely an NBA lottery pick. Even in a relatively quiet offensive performance against Jackson State last week, Miller still finished with a double-double as he pulled down 14 rebounds to go with his 10 points.

2. Grady Dick, Kansas

Stats: 15.4 PPG | 4.8 RPG | 1.7 APG | 48.6% 3PT

Dick might be the best 3-point shooter in the nation, regardless of class. What’s most encouraging about his outside shooting touch to this point is that it has translated against quality opposition. If he gets open even for a second, Dick will make you pay. He’s also third in steals for Kansas and proving to be far more than just a shooter. Through the season’s first two months, Dick has outperformed the high expectations he entered with as a five-star prospect ranked No. 21 in the class by 247Sports.

3. Kyle Filipowski, Duke

Stats: 14.4 PPG | 8.9 RPG | 1.3 APG

Filipowski’s streak of double-digit scoring performances to begin his college career finally came to an end in a loss to Wake Forest last week when he finished with just nine points. It was his worst game yet, but it was by no means indicative of how strong Filipowski has been for the Blue Devils. The 7-footer is proving to be one of college basketball’s premier “unicorn” players this season. Even at his height, he can defend multiple positions and serve as a playmaker offensively.

4. Keyonte George, Baylor

Stats: 15.1 PPG | 4.3 RPG | 3.9 APG | 32.6% 3PT

George is proving to be an offensive dynamo for a Baylor team that has no shortage of scoring guards. While his 3-point shot is still a work in progress, his chops as a distributor have made him a dynamic addition to the Bears’ lineup. He is second among all Big 12 freshmen in assists per game and barely trailing Gradey Dick of Kansas for the top scoring spot among the league’s freshmen. His productivity as a young player for a veteran-laden team has been impressive.

5. Jett Howard, Michigan

Stats: 15.6 PPG | 2.5 RPG | 2.5 APG | 40.3% 3PT

Michigan’s 7-4 record is disappointing, but Howard’s play has been a ray of sunshine amid the Wolverines’ tough start. In a losing effort against North Carolina last week, he scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including a 3-of-7 mark from beyond the arc. At 6-foot-8, Howard’s versatility and playmaking are impressive, and his outside shot has been a shot in the arm for Michigan’s offense. Howard looks like one of the most NBA-ready freshmen in this class.

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