Freshman rankings: Auburn’s Jabari Smith wins Freshman of the Week; Ohio State’s Malaki Branham enters top 10

For those who might be concerned about Jabbari Smith hitting a wall late in his new season after a handful of relatively low performances in late January and early February, he issued a strong response last week. The Auburn star scored 31 career points in a win over Vanderbilt and then scored 28 of 62 for his team in a loss to Florida on Saturday.

The two games represent Smith’s two highest scores this season and lay the barbs on any speculation that he may have already maxed out during what will be his only season in college basketball. Smith’s performance last week, highlighted by 11 out of 15 marks out of a 3-point scale, earned the CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week honors.

It’s Smith’s first time earning the award this season, although he has shared multiple times. Smith was consistent but rarely culminated in back-to-back big games in the same week as he did against the Commodores and the Giants.

inexplicably, No touching basketball in UF . Tigers final possession Auburn also suffered his third loss of the season. But that wasn’t Smith’s fault. He’s been fantastic last week and he’s been excellent all season for a team with legitimate aspirations to the National title.

CBS Sports has once again teamed up with the United States Basketball Writers Association and the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year award to present this feature every Tuesday. We’ll start each week by announcing the week’s new National Winner. The FOTW tournament runs from Tuesday to Monday.

Previous FOTW Winners

    November 30: Paolo Banchero, Duke
    December 7: Ryan Smith, Charleston
    December 14: Aminu Muhammed, Georgetown
    December 21: Kendall Brown, Baylor
    December 28: Paolo Banchero, Duke
    January 4th: Angel Branham, Ohio
    January 11: Blake Wesley, Notre Dame
    January 18: TyTy Washington, Kentucky
    25 January: Caleb Houston, Michigan
    1 February: Therese Hunter, Iowa
    February 8: Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
    February 15: Trevor Kells, Duke

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These are the top 10 new players in college basketball this season.

1. Paolo Panchero | duke

statistics: 16.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.7 APG

Banchero’s 3-point percentage is down under 30% for the season, and he’s only firing 37.8% from the floor over Duke’s last six games. While he’s clearly a standout player and a contender for the ACC Player of the Year award, it’s not clear he’s making strides as the season progresses as Chet Holmgren. Although Banchero has been consistent all season, his lead at Holmgren and Jabari Smith is waning.

2. Aljabri Smith | Auburn

statistics: 16.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 43.3% 3PT, 1.7 APG

Smith turned in a very brilliant week with 31 points in Auburn’s 94-80 win over Vanderbilt and 28 in a 63-62 loss in Florida. The 6-foot-10 forward hit 11 of 15 from a 3-point range over those two games and once again showed why he was in the race to be the first-choice in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Tigers didn’t get the ball on final possession for their loss to the Gators. But that’s not Smith’s fault.

3. Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga

statistics: 14.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 3.4 BPG, 44.6% 3PT

Holmgren’s ridiculous flatlines continue to rise during Gonzaga’s undefeated run by playing WCC. He finished the game with 18 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks in a win over Pepperdine on Wednesday. He finally had a game Saturday against Santa Clara but still scored a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

4. Blake Wesley | Notre Dame

statistics: 14.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.3 SPG

Wesley put in an excellent week with an 18-point lead in a win over Boston College and 24 in a loss at Wake Forest. The goalkeeper hit 6-5 6 of 11 from 3 point range against demonic deacons to give his team a chance in a hostile environment. He has averaged 17.6 points over 50% of shootings over the last five Notre Dame competitions. Not surprisingly, the Fighting Irish are 4-1 at that range.

5. Ty T Washington | Kentucky

statistics: 12.4 PPG, 4.1 APG, 35% 3PT

Washington’s February 12 leg injury suffered against Florida, limiting him to a United Kingdom loss in Tennessee last week and keeping him out of the Wildcats’ win over Alabama on Saturday. When healthy, he’s key to Kentucky on both ends as he can play on or off the ball while also embracing challenging defensive tasks.

6. AJ Griffin | duke

statistics: 9.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 48.5% 3PT

Griffin has made at least two 3-pointers in each of Duke’s last four games, all of which have been wins for the Blue Devils. It’s the first of four matches for Griffin, who has proven to be among the best out-of-country shooters. The 6-6 Wing is more than just a shooter too, and its versatility puts it in the lottery selection conversation.

7. Kennedy Chandler | Tennessee

statistics: 13.2 PPG, 4.8 APG, 2.3 SPG

Chandler and teammate Zachai Ziegler combine, on average, to steal 4.2 per game, making the Tennessee defense a real pain to play against. Chandler remains a consistent offensive threat to the Volunteers as well. He finished with six assists and had no turnovers in Utah’s win over Kentucky last week.

8. Trevor Kells | duke

statistics: 12.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.5 SPG

Keels struggled against Wake Forest last Tuesday, but has been strong overall with Duke since returning from a leg injury on Jan. The bodyguard has fired 6-4 46.2% from a 3-point range over Duke’s last six games to help give the Blue Devils another consistent outside threat alongside the likes of Griffin, Joey Baker and Wendell Moore.

9. Melky Branham | Ohio State

statistics: 11.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 45.9% 3PT

Branham had a huge week lost to Iowa and a win over Indiana. The goalkeeper went 6-5 9 of 13 from the ground in both games, finishing with 22 against the Hawkeyes and 27 against Ohio State. It could be a feast or a feast for Branham, but he had enough of his Big Ten play to challenge Bryce McGowens to the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

10. Galen Doreen | Memphis

statistics: 11.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.3 BPG

Duren has averaged 13.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks over the last seven games for Memphis and is a big reason why the Tigers are back in the NCAA championship conversation after some mid-season trouble. He’s a lock for AAC Freshman of the Year and clearly one of the top big players in the league.

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