Houston forward Jarace Walker was a five-star recruit coming out of high school who has ascended quickly of late for Houston as the Cougars re-took the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 poll this week. But you won't hear Houston coach Kelvin Sampson bending over backwards to shower his youngster with praise. The two games of 23 points and 21 points consecutively for Walker vs. SMU and Cincinnati, respectively, is the standard for what Sampson expects moving forward. There's no ceremony to celebrate a nice week.
"There's no coronation around here if you have a good game," Sampson said Sunday after the Cougars defeated Cincinnati. "That's the first time he's had consecutive good games. The key is put three, four, five, six, seven. We've had a lot of guys who have done what he's done, play two really good games. But that's the first time Jarace has done it."
We operate a bit differently around here at CBS Sports, though. Walker gets his own mini-coronation with Freshman of the Week honors from CBS Sports and USBWA coming his way after a big week. He was key in two blowout wins as Houston tightened its grip on the AAC and strengthened its case as the top team in the sport. The honor is his first FOTW this season in our season-long Frosh Watch. If he can do what Sampson expects -- to string together three, four, five, six or seven good games in a row -- then smart money is on this not being his last.
Let's dive into the rankings this week with a quick pit stop on Walker.
Freshman of the Week: Jarace Walker, Houston
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.
Walker is Houston's highest-rated signee of the 247Sports era, and he's been asked to gel with a lineup consisting of four other starters who are either juniors or seniors on a national title contender. Given his lofty prospect rating, Houston's sky-high expectations and the veteran nature of the roster, it's incredibly impressive what Walker has done.
If he played for a lesser team, he would likely be the leading scorer and grabbing more national buzz for his production. But NBA scouts should nonetheless be enamored with Walker, who is shooting 40% from beyond the arc this season while built like an old-school power forward. Houston is already on a roll, and as Walker continues to improve and get more comfortable defensively, the Cougars will only get better.
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
Frosh Watch: Top five freshmen rankings
1. Brandon Miller, Alabama
Stats: 19.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.9 APG, 43.5 3P%
Miller continues to hold a comfortable lead in the freshman rankings as he is off to an excellent start in SEC play for the No. 4 Crimson Tide. With 17 and 19-point performances in wins over Ole Miss and Kentucky last week, the lanky future lottery pick continues to put his diverse skill set on display. Not only is he the nation's top-scoring freshman, but he leads all SEC players in scoring and is tied for third in the conference in rebounding. There is little Miller can't do, and he's one big reason why Alabama looks like a national title contender.
2. Gradey Dick, Kansas
Stats: 14.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 48.2 3P%
Dick has established himself as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country by making at least one long-range attempt in all 15 games so far this season. In Kansas' 76-62 win over West Virginia on Saturday, he knocked down 4 of 6 tries from deep as part of a 3-point barrage for the No. 2 Jayhawks. Dick's outside shooting is his money skill, but he also picks up a ton of steals, crashes the boards well and has dished out nine assists over the last three games. Given his 6-foot-8 frame and all-around game, it's no surprise he's being projected as an NBA Draft lottery pick.
3. Keyonte George, Baylor
Stats: 16.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 33.6 3P%
Baylor is off to an 0-3 start in Big 12 play after being picked to win the league, but George continues to produce. He totaled 49 points in losses to TCU and Kansas State last week in large part because of his ability to reach the free-throw line. The 6-4 guard made 23 of 28 attempts from the charity stripe in those two games and is shooting 82.7% from the line this season. That knack for getting fouled has helped George make up for a field-goal percentage and turnover rate that aren't great.
4. Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State
Stats: 16.7 PPG | 4.7 RPG | 43.3 3P%
Since entering the starting lineup on Dec. 8, Sensabaugh is averaging 19.4 points on 53.4% shooting, including 40% 3-point shooting. The 6-6 forward is built like a tank but has a smooth offensive game nevertheless. He went for 21 and 22 points in losses to Purdue and Maryland this past week. At 10-5 (2-2 Big Ten), Ohio State isn't getting the national attention of Miller and the Crimson Tide. But over the past month, Sensabaugh has arguably been just as good as Miller as he's showcased a deep bag of offensive skills.
5. Kyle Filipowski, Duke
Stats: 13.9 PPG | 8.6 RPG | 26.4 3P%
Filipowski had a nice week with 14 points and eight rebounds in a loss at NC State and 15 points with nine rebounds and three blocks in a win at Boston College. The versatile 7-footer continues to struggle shooting from the outside but remains one of the top options for a No. 24 Duke team that is trying to find its way. Filipowski has reached double figures 14 times in 16 games, and he also ranks as the Blue Devils' top defender according to evanmiya.com.