When Kendall Brown subbed out at the 17:50 mark in the second half of No. 1 Baylor's win at Oregon on Saturday night after picking up his third foul, the game was looking like one of the most forgettable of his standout freshman season. Brown had more fouls than points at the time and had played just six minutes as the Bears found themselves in a battle against the Ducks.
But when the 6-foot-8 forward checked back in with 13:20 remaining and the Bears trailing 49-46, he changed the entire dynamic of the game. Brown scored 15 of his 17 points over the final 13 minutes and made all sorts of intangible plays to fuel a ruthless Baylor run as the Bears dominated down the stretch for a 78-70 win in their first true road game.
Brown sparked that run, and his second-half performance earns him this week's Freshman of the Week honors. Brown got things going with a high-flying dunk off an in-bounds pass with 12:43 left. Then, after taking a dangerous foul that sent him tumbling into a basket support with 9:57 left, Brown really turned it on. On Baylor's next possession he threw down another dunk off a lob. Then on Oregon's next possession, he jumped into a passing lane for a steal that he finished with a dunk.
There were more transition finishes, a back-tap on an offensive rebound that set up a Baylor 3-pointer and, most importantly, not another foul. All in all, it may have been Brown's best performance yet. Brown's play vs. the Ducks combined with his 16-point outing in the Bears' 94-57 victory vs. Alcorn is why he is the CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week.
I mean... 🤷 @TheeKbrown— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) December 19, 2021
BU 72 UO 64 | 2:37 2H#SicEm | #CultureofJOY 🏀 pic.twitter.com/ed0T52G47n
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.
Previous FOTW winners
- Nov. 30: Paolo Banchero, Duke
Dec. 7: Reyne Smith, Charleston
Dec. 14: Aminu Mohammed, Georgetown
These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball for this season.
1. Jabari Smith | Auburn
Stats: 16.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 45.6% 3PT
Smith is a 6-foot-10 forward with positional versatility who is hitting 45.6% of his 3-pointers on 5.2 attempts per game and changing the perception of an Auburn team that began the season unranked. Thanks largely to Smith's standout play, the Tigers are now up to No. 12 in the AP Top 25 after a 10-1 start. He's going to be a problem for opposing defenses in SEC play.
2. Paolo Banchero | Duke
Stats: 16.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.5 SPG
Banchero's game and stats are similar to Smith's, as both are stretch forwards playing at the four position and living up to their five-star prospect hype. The differences are that Banchero is more physical, while Smith is better as an outside shooter. Banchero will have plenty of opportunity to reclaim the top spot in the coming weeks as Duke begins ACC play.
3. Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga
Stats: 13.3 PPG, 38.5 RPG, 3.6 BPG, 37.1% 3PT
Holmgren leads the country in blocked shots, is leading Gonzaga in rebounding and his 3-point shot is coming along. The 7-footer's best basketball is still ahead of him this season, and as he continues to improve, Gonzaga will start to look more and more like a national title contender. The sky is the limit for Holmgren, and he should wreak havoc on the Bulldogs' WCC opponents.
4. Kendall Brown | Baylor
Stats: 13.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 71.4% FG
Brown's ability to seamlessly fit in with the nation's No. 1 team is reminiscent of how Jalen Suggs slotted in with Gonzaga last season. They play different positions but are both human highlight reels unbothered by the unselfishness required to thrive on a Final Four-caliber team that features other stars. The high-energy, savvy plays Brown made in the second half of Baylor's win at Oregon on Saturday night exemplify how he can help this team compete for back-to-back national titles.
5. Aminu Mohammed | Georgetown
Stats: 14.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 39.1% 3PT%
Mohammed is incredibly physical for a freshman wing, and that shows up in his rebounding numbers. The former five-star prospect's shooting mechanics are a work in progress, but he's been effective from deep on 2.1 attempts per game. He's at his best off the dribble and can use either hand to attack and finish with an arsenal of crafty moves.
6. Kennedy Chandler | Tennessee
Stats: 14.6 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.9 SPG, 40% 3PT
Chandler's opportunity to play against his hometown team of Memphis was wiped out by COVID-19 issues for the Tigers. But the 6-foot point guard will have plenty of opportunity to shine in the near future as the Vols gear up for games against Arizona and Alabama before the calendar flips. He's the early frontrunner for SEC Freshman of the Year.
7. Ryan Nembhard | Creighton
Stats: 12.7 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 41% 3PT
Matching up against Villanova point guard Collin Gillespie would be a nightmare for most freshmen. Nembhard handled it just fine in a 79-59 win over the Wildcats last week. With Nembhard running the offense, a Creighton team that lost all five starters from last season's Sweet 16 team looks capable of returning to the Big Dance.
8. TyTy Washington | Kentucky
Stats: 13.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 37.5% 3PT
Washington hasn't reached double figures against any of Kentucky's three power conference opponents to date, but he made plenty of contributions in the Wildcats' 98-69 win over North Carolina on Saturday. The 6-3 guard isn't the team's primary ball-handler but he's proving to be a capable secondary facilitator with a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio thus far.
9. Harrison Ingram | Stanford
Stats: 12.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.4 APG
Ingram stuffed the stat sheet for Stanford in a 60-53 loss to Texas on Sunday as he continues to stand out for his versatility and feel. While the 6--8 forward lacks explosive athleticism, he can guard multiple positions and has also shown he can step out and hit 3-pointers.
10. Jalen Duren | Memphis
Stats: 10.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.8 BPG, 67.2% FG
Duren's 7-for-9 shooting performance and presence as a lob threat helped lift Memphis to a critical win over Alabama last week. The 6-foot-11 center's overall offensive game is a work in progress. But he's proving to be a great rim protector and rebounder.