Ranking college basketball’s best freshmen: Alabama’s Brandon Miller earns Freshman of the Week honors

There were 13 players in the 2022 class ranked ahead of five-star prospect and Alabama freshman Brandon Miller. None, though, have been nearly as impactful and productive as has Miller for the Crimson Tide this season.

Six weeks into the season, Miller has been a mainstay at the top of our rankings of college basketball’s best newbies and that continues this week after putting up 24 and 36 points in two outings this last week against Memphis and Gonzaga, respectively. He’s now scoring 3.1 points per game more than the next closest freshman in the sport, leading all freshmen in 3-point field-goal percentage (among those with taken 70 or more attempts) and leading all SEC players regardless of classification in scoring, too.

Simply put: there aren’t 13 freshmen in college basketball that have been better than Brandon Miller has been at Alabama this season. There aren’t even 13 totally players who are having a better season than him.

So of course coming off yet another productive week, he (finally and deservedly) gets the nod as the CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week, edging out a loaded class that includes South Carolina’s Gregory “GG” Jackson II, Baylor’s Keyonte George, Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, Arkansas’ Nick Smith and others. Unsurprisingly, he remained top dog in our season-long rankings, too.

Let’s dive into this week’s results.

Freshman of the Week: Brandon Miller, Alabama

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.

A peek behind the curtain here: Brandon Miller has been No. 1 in our freshmen rankings all season long but has finished runner-up in our Freshman of the Week ballot numerous occasions while never cracking the top spot in our weekly ranking between myself and David Cobb . . . until now.

He left no doubt this week with 24 points, eight rebounds and 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range in a win over Memphis last Tuesday followed by a season-high 36 points on 12-of-22 shooting — including 6 -of-11 from 3-point range — in a loss vs. Gonzaga.

“We thought he would do something like that,” Gonzaga big man Drew Timme said of Miller. “He’s a lottery-level guy. Hell of a player. He really stepped up when his team needed him. You can only play such good defense.”

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 freshmen rankings

1. Brandon Miller, Alabama

stats: 20.1PPG | 8.2 RPG | 1.9 APG | 45.1% 3PT

Before exploding with two huge offensive showings against Memphis and Gonzaga last week, Miller had entered a slump. The freshman phenom was shooting just 25.5% from the floor for his previous four games, and it seemed like opposing defenses were figuring him out. But against Memphis and Gonzaga, he turned in two of his best performances yet. Not only is Miller leading all freshmen nationally in scoring, he’s also leading the SEC in points per game and is tied for first in the conference in made 3-pointers with 37.

2. Gradey Dick, Kansas

stats: 15.8PPG | 4.5 RPG | 1.7 APG | 49.2% 3PT

Dick is tied for first in the Big 12 for made 3-pointers with 31 after turning in another big performance during Kansas’ 84-62 win over Indiana on Saturday. The sharpshooting wing finished with 20 points, six rebounds and four steals while drilling 4 of 5 attempts from 3-point range. The Jayhawks are quietly hitting a scary gear as conference play approaches, and Dick is a big part of why this team looks capable of defending its national title.

3. Keyonte George, Baylor

stats: 16.0PPG | 4.4 RPG | 4.1 APG | 32.1% 3PT

The team best positioned to give Kansas a run for its money in the Big 12 is Baylor, and that’s largely because of how solid George has been in the early going. Though his 3-point shot is still coming along, George has been excellent at finding his spots inside the arc and is now leading the Bears in scoring. The 6-foot-4 guard is a freshman in a rotation full of veterans but has the highest rating of any player on the team in evanmiya.com‘s Bayesian Performance Rating.

4. Kyle Filipowski, Duke

stats: 14.8PPG | 9.2 RPG | 1.3 APG | 33.3% 3PT

Through 12 games, Filipowski has been a rock for the Blue Devils. The 7-footer has reached double figures in every game and has six double-doubles to his credit. He’s drilled a 3-pointer in nine games and has made multiple 3-pointers on four occasions. Filipowski has proven to be a solid defender as well, even when tasked with playing power forward during stretches when fellow 7-footer Dereck Lively II is on the floor.

5. Jett Howard, Michigan

stats: 15.5PPG | 2.4 RPG | 40.0% 3PT

With a final ranking of No. 45 in the 247Sports’ rankings of the 2022 recruiting class, Howard is by far the least-heralded prospect on this list. But everything the physical 6-8 guard has done to this point suggests he’s a five-star talent and likely one-and-done NBA prospect. Howard can shoot from the outside, distribute, get to the rim and is great at avoiding turnovers for a player of his age and usage rate. His defense remains a work in progress, but Howard has all the tools to master that trait as well.

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