Ranking the best college basketball freshmen: Alabama’s Brandon Miller is freshman of the week, leading Frosh Watch

As the college basketball season draws closer to March and teams begin to split between contenders and contenders, the landscape has constantly shifted, but one thing has proven reliable: Brandon Miller at big games. The Alabama freshman has been a staple of our freshman rankings all season and is once again headlining our column as Freshman of the Week after posting 22.5 points per game in two big wins for the Tide this week against Arkansas and LSU as They took control of the SEC.

Miller had 14 points to help Bama topple No. 15 Arkansas on the road earlier in the week, then turned things into high gear when Alabama returned home to face LSU. He finished with 31 points in a decline for the visiting Tigers as Alabama as a team hit 20 3-pointers and won by 40 points.

No freshman has had the same impact on winning and producing as Miller for Alabama — he’s gone from freshman of the year suspension to a viable contender for player of the year that no other freshman can currently enter — but it has were others which were undoubtedly effective. We’ve highlighted the five most impactful in the range below in our weekly ranking.

Let’s dive into the leaderboard this week with a quick pit stop at Miller’s.

Freshman of the week: Brandon Miller, Alabama

Welcome back to Frosh Watch, our weekly ranking of college basketball’s five most impressive freshmen. CBS Sports has teamed up again with the United States Basketball Writers Association and their Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award to bring you this Tuesday feature. Each week we begin by announcing the national Freshman of the Week award winner. The cycle for FOTW runs from Tuesday to Monday.

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Miller is the second two-time winner of our Freshman of the Week award, bringing home the honor just four weeks after the first time just before Christmas. It would be one thing if Miller filled the stat sheet with empty calories; he is not. He has a Player Efficiency Rating of 24.2, which is third best among all SEC freshmen, his 19.5 points per game leads all SEC players by more than a point per game, and his Bama team is ranked 4 up in ranking latest AP Top 25 poll.

“He’s very busy and works, but he’s having a lot of fun,” said Alabama coach Nate Oats of Miller after the win against LSU. “He’s obviously a really talented boy. He started with the first 3 and had a barrage after that. He had one of the most efficient nights I’ve ever seen.”

Miller vs. LSU finished five points shy of a career high, scoring 31 points in one historical decline. It was the second time in his last seven games that he had scored 30 or more points after doing so on December 17 against a 15th-ranked Gonzaga team where he had 36 points in a win.

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

Frosh Watch: Top Five Freshman Rankings

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We’re running out of superlatives for Miller. Not only is he running away from the crowd as the nation’s top freshman, but he’s also clearly in the mix to be a first-team All-American. Miller continues to lead the SEC in goals and influences the game in many ways for an Alabama team that is 15-2 (5-0 SEC) and projected as the No. 1 player in the NCAA tournament by CBS Sports Bracketology expert Jerry Palme .

Miller exploded for 31 points and nine rebounds with a 7-of-11 mark from 3-point range in the Crimson Tide’s 106-66 win over LSU on Saturday. In a win against Arkansas on Wednesday, he made just 3 of 4 shots from the field but still finished with 14 points as he drilled 6 of 7 free throws while the Razorbacks paid undue defensive attention to his defense. Even on nights when opponents are trying their best to shut down Miller’s offense, he still manages to influence the game with his passing, defense and excellent free throws. His mere presence on the floor opens things up to a large group of talented teammates, and that makes Miller one of the most influential players in college basketball.

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For a brief spell over the holidays, Filipowski seemed like hitting a wall as he posted single-digit total points and dealt with foul troubles in games against Wake Forest and Florida State. But in four games since then, he’s averaged a whopping 18.8 points and 11.5 rebounds. The Blue Devils are still finding their feet under first-year coach Jon Scheyer, but there is no question who is at the heart of their team. It’s Filipowski who’s proving to be one of the most versatile seven-footers in college basketball. He’s been shooting just 13.8% from 3-pointers since early December, and if he ever gets that outside shot going again, he’ll be impossible to defend.

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Dick is 17 games into his collegiate career and has made at least one 3-point shot in every competition. Ahead of the season, Kansas coach Bill Self proclaimed that Dick could be the best 3-pointer he’s coached at KU, and Dick continues to prove that bold statement is correct. In the Jayhawks’ 62-60 win over Iowa State on Saturday, he scored 21 points on a 5-of-9 shot from deep and added two steals. At 6ft 8, his length and athleticism make him an ideal winger in the modern game and for a KU team that routinely plays undersized KJ Adams at center.

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After a 3-0 start to the Big 12 game, Baylor has won two straight league competitions. Last Wednesday, George put the Bears on their backs with a 32-point breakout on 10 of 18 shooting in an 83-78 win in West Virginia. George has been shooting 41.5% from 3-point range since Christmas and has averaged 21 points per game over that span. The Bears have underperformed slightly this season, but they may be turning a corner as George lives up to his five-star claim and emerges as one of the Big 12’s all-time top scorers.

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Ohio State has been fickle, but Sensabaugh continues to get buckets. He averaged 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 44.4% from 3-point range during the Buckeyes’ four-game losing streak. He’s only the fifth most efficient defensive player for Ohio State according to evanmiya.com, but his goal-scoring ability explains why the Buckeyes still have a top-five offense according to kenpom.com. At 6-6 and 235 pounds, Sensabaugh is a matchup problem for virtually any opponent, and he can score in a variety of ways.

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