As the college basketball season inches ever-closer to March and teams begin to separate themselves between the contenders and the pretenders, there has been a constantly-changing landscape but one thing has been take-it-to-the-bank reliable: Brandon Miller in big games. The Alabama freshman has been a staple of our Freshman Rankings all season and once again he is the headliner of our column as the Freshman of the Week after pouring in 22.5 points per game in two huge wins for the Tide this week against Arkansas and LSU as they seized control of the SEC.
Miller had a ho-hum 14 points to help Bama toppled No. 15 Arkansas on the road to begin the week then turned things on full blast as Alabama returned home to face LSU. He finished with 31 points in a beatdown of the visiting Tigers as Alabama made 20 3-pointers as a team and won by 40 points.
No freshman has had the same impact on winning and production than Miller has had for Alabama -- he's gone from Freshman of the Year lock to a viable player of the year candidate, which no other freshman can be included in at the moment -- but there have been others who have no doubt been impactful. We've highlighted the five most impactful in the space below in our weekly rankings.
Let's dive into the rankings this week with a quick pit stop on Miller.
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.
Miller is the second two-time winner of our Freshman of the Week distinction, bringing home the honor just four weeks removed from doing it the first time just before Christmas. It'd be one thing if Miller was stuffing the stat sheet with empty calories; he's not. He has a 24.2 Player Efficiency Rating that is third-best among all SEC freshmen, his 19.5 points per game leads all SEC players by more than a point a game and his Bama team has risen up to No. 4 in the latest AP Top 25 poll.
"He's very business-like and works, but he has a lot of fun," said Alabama coach Nate Oats of Miller after the win vs. LSU. "He's obviously a really talented kid. He started with that first 3 and then had a barrage after that. He had one of the more efficient nights I've seen."
Brandon Miller is UNSTOPPABLE‼️— The Naismith Trophy (@NaismithTrophy) January 15, 2023
Our @jerseymikes Naismith Men’s College POY Watch List player went off in @AlabamaMBB’s huge victory over LSU 💫
🏀 31 points
💪 9 rebounds
🔥 7 three-pointers#RollTide | #BlueCollarBasketballpic.twitter.com/aKd4IwFpPJ
Miller against LSU finished five points shy of a career-high, turning in 31 points in an historic beatdown. It was the second time in his last seven outings he has gone for 30 or more points after doing so on Dec. 17 vs. a then-ranked No. 15 Gonzaga team where he went for 36 points.
Without further ado, 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.
- Nov. 22: Anthony Black, Arkansas
- Nov. 29: Fletcher Loyer, Purdue
- Dec. 6: GG Jackson, South Carolina
- Dec. 13: Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas
- Dec. 20: Brandon Miller, Alabama
- Dec. 27: Cason Wallace, Kentucky
- Jan. 3: GG Jackson, South Carolina
- Jan. 10: Jarace Walker, Houston
Frosh Watch: Top five freshmen rankings
We are running out of superlatives for Miller. Not only is he running away from the pack 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 scoring while impacting the game in a variety of ways for an Alabama team that is 15-2 (5-0 SEC) and projected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament by CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm.
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 over 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 devoted excessive defensive attention to defending him. Even on nights when opponents do everything they can to take away Miller's offense, he still manages to impact the game with his passing, defense and excellent free-throw shooting. His mere presence on the floor opens things up for a deep group of talented teammates, and that makes Miller one of the most impactful players in college basketball.
For a brief spell around the holidays, it seemed like Filipowski may be hitting a wall as he posted single-digit scoring totals and dealt with foul trouble 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 way under first-year coach Jon Scheyer, but there is no doubt over who is the focal point of their team. It is Filipowski, who is proving to be among the most versatile seven-footers in college basketball. He is shooting just 13.8% from 3-point range since the beginning of December, and if he ever gets the outside shot going again, he'll be impossible to defend.
Dick is 17 games into his college career and has made at least one 3-point shot in each contest. Before the season, Kansas coach Bill Self proclaimed that Dick could be the best 3-point shooter he's coached at KU, and Dick continues to prove that bold declaration correct. He went off for 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting from deep in the Jayhawks' 62-60 win over Iowa State on Saturday and added two steals for good measure. At 6-foot-8, his length and athleticism make him an ideal wing in the modern game and for a KU team that routinely plays the undersized KJ Adams at center.
After an 0-3 start to Big 12 play, Baylor has won two straight league contests. Last Wednesday, George put the Bears on his back with a 32-point outburst on 10 of 18 shooting in an 83-78 win at West Virginia. George is shooting 41.5% from 3-point range since Christmas and has averaged 21 points per game in that span. The Bears have underperformed a bit this season, but they may be turning a corner as George lives up to his five-star prospect billing and emerges as one of the Big 12's top pure scorers.
Ohio State has been inconsistent, but Sensabaugh continues to get buckets. He's averaged 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 44.4% from 3-point range during the Buckeyes' four-game losing streak. He ranks as only the fifth-most efficient defensive player for Ohio State, according to evanmiya.com, but his 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 every opponent, and he can score in a variety of ways.