Ranking college basketball's best freshmen: South Carolina's Collin Murray-Boyles earns Freshman of the Week



southcarolinafotw

South Carolina has been one of the best stories in college basketball this season, and freshman Collin Murray-Boyles is one of the reasons why. 

The Gamecocks are tied atop the SEC standings with Alabama. Remember: this is a team that was tabbed to finish last in the SEC preseason poll. Earlier this week, South Carolina earned its highest AP Top 25 ranking during the regular season in more than 25 years after knocking off Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

In that 75-60 win over the Commodores, Murray-Boyles exploded for a career-high 31 points just days after recording a near double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. Murray-Boyles has scored in double figures six times this season — which includes three straight games with 16-plus points.

If South Carolina is going to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, Murray-Boyles might be called upon to make an impact. If the last week has shown us anything, he appears to be up for the challenge.

Let’s jump into our rankings and get to our CBS Sports/USBWA Freshman of the Week for the the 2023-24 college basketball season

Freshman of the Week: Collin Murray-Boyles, South Carolina

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.

The former four-star prospect out of Columbia, South Carolina, wasn’t heavily recruited despite being ranked as the No. 108 overall player in the 2023 recruiting class by 247Sports. South Carolina was the only power-conference program to offer Murray-Boyles; he committed to Lamont Paris and the Gamecocks over Appalachian State, Belmont, Coastal Carolina, Jacksonville, SMU, South Carolina Upstate, St. Bonaventure, UNC Wilmington and Wofford.

Murray-Boyles is averaging 8.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and shooting 60.2% from the floor in 19.6 minutes of action. The star freshman has seen an increased role since the start of conference play and has played at least 20 minutes in 10 of 11 SEC games. He is definitely a name to keep an eye on as the 2024 NBA Draft gets closer as a potential one-and-done candidate.

  • Nov. 28: D.J. Wagner, Kentucky
  • Dec. 5: Myles Rice, Washington State
  • Dec. 12: Aden Holloway, Auburn
  • Dec. 19: Dedan Thomas Jr., UNLV
  • Dec. 26: Jared McCain, Duke
  • Jan. 2: Jackson Shelstad, Oregon
  • Jan. 9: PJ Haggerty, Tulsa
  • Jan. 16: Josh Hubbard, Mississippi State
  • Jan. 23: Zvonimir Ivišić, Kentucky
  • Jan. 30: Yves Missi, Baylor
  • Feb. 6: Stephon Castle, UConn

Frosh Watch: Top 10 freshman rankings

1. PJ Haggerty, Tulsa

Stats: 19.8 PPG | 4.9 RPG | 3.5 APG | 47.5% FG

Haggerty keeps playing at an elite level. The No. 1 player in these rankings is coming off another pair of solid outings. Haggerty scored 20 points with five rebounds and three assists against North Texas and followed it up by scoring 21 points with nine rebounds against UAB. Haggerty has scored at least 20 points in five consecutive games. Overall, he has 14 such outings of scoring 20-plus points. He’s a pure bucket-getter. Last week: 1

2. Myles Rice, Washington State

Stats: 15.6 PPG | 3.8 APG | 2.6 RPG

Washington State appears to be inching closer to snapping an NCAA Tournament drought that dates back to 2008. Rice would be a massive reason why; he’s playing like the Pac-12 Freshmen of the Year. After scoring only eight points against Oregon State, he responded by recording a near double-double with 21 points (14 of which came in the second half) and nine rebounds in a close win over Oregon. He’s one of the stories of the year in the sport and holds firm at No. 2 this week. Last week: 2

3. Jared McCain, Duke

Stats: 12.7 PPG | 4.7 RPG | 38.2% 3FG

McCain is a rebounding machine. The Duke star freshman recorded his sixth game with 10-plus rebounds on Monday by posting 17 points and 10 boards in a 77-69 win over Wake Forest. McCain will be one of the best rebounding guards in this upcoming draft (if he elects to declare) because of his ability to crash the glass despite being one of the shortest players on the court at any given time. McCain is slowly becoming Duke’s best pro prospect ahead of the likes of Kyle Filipowski and Tyrese Proctor. Last week: 3

4. Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

Stats: 12.4 PPG | 4.3 RPG | 4.1 APG | 53% FG

After going scoreless in the first half against Gonzaga last weekend, Sheppard exploded for 21 points during the final 20 minutes of regulation. Despite the 89-85 loss to the Zags, Sheppard played one of the best halves of basketball in his college career. He was a big reason why Kentucky kept it close down the stretch. Last week: 4

5. Isaiah Collier, USC

Stats: 15.8 PPG | 4.0 APG  | 2.7 RPG

Collier returned to the court for the first time in nearly a month after exiting against Washington State with a hand injury and immediately made an impact against Cal. Collier helped USC force overtime by scoring all 20 of his points after halftime. Collier scored 18 points with four rebounds and three assists days later in a loss to Stanford. USC’s season may be over from a tournament standpoint, but getting Collier back in the fold is certainly a boost. Last week: 7

6. Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Stats: 15.0 PPG | 4.0 APG | 3.0 RPG

You may be wondering why Dillingham, who had scored 16-plus points in four consecutive outings, played a grand total of 18 minutes against Gonzaga. What makes things more puzzling is the fact that he played a grand total of four minutes in the second half. Dillingham has the ability to change the complexion of a game because of the spark he brings off the bench. Not playing him hurt the Wildcats down the stretch. He should be playing 25 minutes per game, minimum. Last week: 5

7. Ja’Kobe Walter, Baylor

Stats: 14.3 PPG | 4.7 RPG | 1.3 SPG

After going three consecutive games without eclipsing 10 points, Ja’Kobe Walter scored 17 points – his highest total in nearly a month – in a road loss to Kansas. Walter has struggled from beyond the arc during Big 12 play, shooting just under 25% from 3 in the last 10 games. Walter will get back on track eventually because he is Baylor’s X-factor. Last week: 6

8. Malik Mack, Harvard

Stats: 18.7 PPG | 4.7 APG | 3.8 RPG

Mack recorded his sixth straight game with at least 16 points and scored 18 points with five assists in his most recent outing against Dartmouth. Mack is averaging 18.7 points per game this season, which ranks behind Haggerty for the most among all freshmen in the country. Last week: 8

9. Cody Williams, Colorado

Stats: 14.0 PPG | 3.5 RPG | 1.9 APG

Cody Williams didn’t have his best performance in a blowout loss to Arizona last weekend. The talented wing turned the ball over five times and shot 3 of 7 from the floor in a 99-79 loss to the Wildcats. Williams remains one of the favorites to go No. 1 in the 2024 NBA Draft because of the upside he’s shown throughout the season. Last week: 9

10. Yves Missi, Baylor

Stats: 11.0 PPG | 5.9 RPG | 1.7 BPG

For the first time this season, Missi is making an appearance on this list. The Baylor big man scored a game-high 21 points and added eight rebounds in a loss to Kansas. Missi had the best game of his career two weeks ago when he scored 25 points against TCU. While his scoring output is impressive, it’s Missi’s defensive game that’s turning heads. If Missi keeps playing like this, he’s going to skyrocket up draft boards. Last week: NR

Others considered: UConn’s Stephon Castle, UCLA’s Sebastian Mack, Mississippi State’s Josh Hubbard, Pitt’s Carlton Carrington, Kentucky’s D.J. Wagner, Iowa State’s Milan Momcilovic, Oregon’s Jackson Shelstad, North Carolina’s Elliot Cadeau and Notre Dame’s Markus Burton, New Mexico’s JT Toppin, Iowa’s Owen Freeman and Kansas’ Johnny Furphy.





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