/Frosh Watch: Tennessee star Jaden Springer is Freshman of the Week, Evan Mobley jumps to No. 1 in rankings
Frosh Watch: Tennessee star Jaden Springer is Freshman of the Week, Evan Mobley jumps to No. 1 in rankings

Frosh Watch: Tennessee star Jaden Springer is Freshman of the Week, Evan Mobley jumps to No. 1 in rankings

Welcome back to the Frosh Watch, our weekly ranking of the 10 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.

Freshman of the Week: Jaden Springer, Tennessee

There are plenty of freshmen putting up big numbers this season, but few guards are doing it with as much efficiency and self-awareness as Jaden Springer, who has exploded offensively over the past 10 days for No. 19 Tennessee. Springer scored 30 on 9-of-11 shooting in a win over Georgia this past Wednesday, and then put up 21 in a loss at LSU on Saturday to earn Freshman of the Week honors.

It’s been a slow build to this point for Springer, who was ranked the No. 14 overall prospect in the class of 2020 by the 247Sports Composite. The 6-foot-4 guard began the season coming off the bench, and did not play more than 25 minutes in a game until Jan. 9. But February has seen Springer’s game reach a new level offensively as he’s begun to incorporate the 3-point shot into his arsenal again while also bringing the physicality needed to reach the free-throw line and find space for quality mid-range looks. The Volunteers (14-5, 7-5 SEC) have struggled with consistency this season, but with Springer and fellow freshman wing Keon Johnson emerging at the right time, Tennessee could have a chance to make a postseason run.

Frosh Watch

These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball for this season.

1. Evan Mobley, USC

Key stats: 16.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.1 BPG, 29.6 PER

This is a welcome to the top for Mr. Mobley, who has been lurking at the No. 2 spot all season but makes the jump to No. 1 for the first time this week. We simply can’t justify not putting him No. 1 any longer. What he’s done this season as USC’s go-to shot-maker, shot-swatter and general two-way terror is remarkable. It’s a huge reason why USC is in the lead in the Pac-12 and barreling towards an at-large tourney bid. Against Washington State on Saturday as the Trojans notched their sixth consecutive win, Mobley had 20 points, 11 boards and matched a career high in blocks with six. Last week: No. 2

Key stats: 18.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 42.9 3P%

Teams are actively game-planning ways to limit Cade Cunningham’s impact, throwing double and even triple teams at him as he attacks the paint. And while he fell from the No. 1 spot this week for the first time all season, he didn’t fall far. He’s still on an All-American pace leading the Big 12 in scoring and dragging the Cowboys to tourney contention all the while. His 15-point outing in a win over K-State last week was his 13th game scoring 15 or more this season. He hasn’t put up many massive showings, but he’s been the most consistent freshman in the game all year long. Last week: No. 1

3. Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

Key stats: 14.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.4 APG, 36.5 3P%

Healthy, warranted bump this week for Jalen Suggs, who in just 28 minutes of action during Gonzaga’s blowout win over San Francisco this week put up 11 points, five boards, five assists, two steals and a block. He was all over the place. That’s been Suggs’ game all season as his draft stock has soared and his team has benefited all the while. Last week: No. 4

4. Sharife Cooper, Auburn

Key stats: 19.6 PPG, 8.6 APG, 4.4 RPG

Both Kentucky and Vanderbilt did a good job this week of scheming against Sharife Cooper to limit his impact, and thus hamstringing Auburn’s offense, by defending him with length and forcing him into tough shots. But Cooper still by any standard put out two fabulous statistical outings, going for 19 points and seven assists in a win over Vandy and for 14 points, six boards and eight assists in a tight loss to UK. Teams are starting to find ways to limit his impact because of his size, his struggles finishing around the rim amongst bigs and his lack of outside scoring threat, yet he continues to put up big numbers and is comfortably a top-five freshman in America. Last week: No. 3

5. Hunter Dickinson, Michigan

Key stats: 14.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.7 BPG

It would’ve made plenty of sense if Hunter Dickinson, after nearly a one-month COVID pause, returned to the court Sunday in a road game against Wisconsin and laid an egg. But of course he didn’t. He’s Hunter Dickinson. So instead, he mauled the Badgers in the paint, scoring 11 points, matching a career-high with 15 boards and posting a career-high in blocks with five. It was part of an incredible effort by Michigan to out-physical Wisconsin that worked to perfection as Badgers bigs Nate Reuevers and Micah Potter combined for a grand total of zero rebounds. Last week: No. 5

6. Cameron Thomas, LSU

Key stats: 22.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 29.5 3P%

After shooting just 33.6% from the floor in nine games during January, Thomas is putting together a nice start to February. In particular, he scored 25 points in consecutive wins this past week on 46.9% shooting. Also encouraging for Thomas is the fact that he turned the ball over just twice over those two games. Last week: No. 6

Key stats: 16.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 37.8 3P%

Moody needed just 16 shots from the field to score 30 points over a pair of Arkansas victories this past week as he continues to lead the Razorbacks in scoring. The Little Rock, Arkansas, native ranked as the No. 45 overall player in the 247Sports Composite for the class of 2020 but has emerged as the star for a team that has won six of its last seven games. Last week: No. 7

Key stats: 12.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 35.8 3P%

Wilson’s production dropped off dramatically in January after he burst onto the scene early in the year with a series of big outings against quality foes. But the 6-foot-8 forward has come on strong again this month, averaging 15 points and 10.4 rebounds per game as the Jayhawks have won four of five to begin February. Last week: NO

9. Jaden Springer, Tennessee

Key stats: 12.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 53.6 3P%

It took Tennessee coach Rick Barnes a while to trust Springer and fellow five-star freshman Keon Johnson to play starring roles for the Volunteers, but both have been starting and shining recently and Springer has been on an offensive tear. The 6-foot-4 guard is averaging 24.7 points on 57.1% shooting over Tennessee’s last three games. Last week: NO

10. Mike Miles, TCU

Key stats: 14.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.2 RPG, 40.0 3P%

For an undersized, three-star prospect to do what Miles has done in the Big 12 as a freshman is remarkable. He trails only Cunningham in points per game among the league’s freshmen, and has been the author of some monster offensive games. It’s been a slog in league play for the Horned Frogs (11-8. 4-6 Big 12), but Miles’ play has helped keep TCU out of the conference’s basement while providing a glimmer of hope for the future. Last week: 8

Previous FOTW winners: