Frosh Watch: Posh Alexander is Freshman of the Week as rising Red Storm star joins rankings

Welcome back to the Frosh Watch, our weekly ranking of the 10 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.

Freshman of the Week: Posh Alexander, St. John’s

Some national recognition for Posh Alexander is long overdue as the formerly unheralded prospect continues to terrorize the Big East with his pugnacious defense. Alexander’s effort in that regard became impossible to ignore last Wednesday when he hounded Villanova’s Collin Gillespie in a 70-59 upset win for the Red Storm. Alexander helped limit the star guard to four points on 2-of-12 shooting while leading the Red Storm with 16 points in a monumental win for coach Mike Anderson’s squad.

When St. John’s lost to Marquette on Jan. 16, it fell to 7-7 overall and 2-6 in the Big East. But the Red Storm are on a six-game winning streak since then and has cracked the “First Four” of CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. Alexander is largely to thank for the team’s eye-catching surge. In addition to his burgeoning reputation as one of the country’s best defenders, Alexander has averaged 17.5 points while shooting 46.4% from 3-point range over the six-game winning streak.

Frosh Watch

These are the top 10 freshman performers in college basketball for this season.

Key stats: 18.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.4 APG, 42.3% 3P%

Cunningham’s offensive efficiency has left something to be desired in Oklahoma State’s last three games. But his effort and impact on the game are the primary reason why the Cowboys appear destined to make the NCAA Tournament, so long as their appeal of a postseason ban produces the desired effect. Though the versatile point-forward has had some freshman moments recently in big spots, he is still the likely No. 1 draft pick for a reason. His ability to dictate the entire flow of the game is unique.. Last week: No. 1

2. Evan Mobley, USC

Key stats: 16.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 58.3 FG%

After beating UCLA on Saturday, USC is now tied with the Bruins atop the Pac-12 standings, and Mobley is a big reason why. The 7-footer leads the league in blocks and rebounds and is eighth in scoring. His 2-point shooting percentage ranks first among all players in the league who have played at least 400 minutes and has at least shown the ability to shoot 3-pointers. In short, he’s lived up to the hype of his No. 3 overall ranking in the 247Sports Composite, and USC is incalculably better because of him. Last week: No. 2

3. Sharife Cooper, Auburn

Key stats: 20.3 PPG, 8.9 APG, 4.3 RPG

After winning four of the first six games Cooper played in, Auburn has lost three straight. But Cooper continues to show why he was the program’s highest-ranked signee of the 247Sports era. The only reason he’s not atop the official NCAA stats database in assists per game is because he hasn’t played in enough of the Tigers’ games to qualify. The fact that just nine games played for a mediocre SEC team have been enough to catapult Cooper into the top 10 of some mock drafts is a remarkable testament to his potential and the impact he’s had in just a month on the court. Last week: No. 3

4. Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

Key stats: 14.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.4 APG, 36.7 3P%

Suggs strung together consecutive offensive outbursts over the past week to help the Bulldogs fend off a couple of worthy challengers. First, he finished with 19 points and nine rebounds in a win over Pacific after Gonzaga trailed at halftime. Then, on Monday, the explosive point guard battled through foul trouble to finish with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Suggs has also cut down on his turnovers over Gonzaga’s last three games, which is a great sign.. Last week: No. 4

5. Hunter Dickinson, Michigan

Key stats: 15.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 68.8 FG%

The Wolverines have not played since Jan. 22 due to COVID-19 precautions, and Dickinson appeared to be hitting a freshman wall in the three games leading up to the pause. But Dickinson’s early-season surge is a big reason why Michigan is one of this year’s top surprise teams. Despite coming off the bench in the season’s first five games, he’s leading all Big Ten freshmen in scoring, rebounding and blocks. That’s he’s done so against the league’s cache of quality, veteran bigs should inspire fear for what the 7-footer can do if he decides to stay around and refine his game for a couple more seasons.. Last week: No. 5

6. Cameron Thomas, LSU

Key stats: 22.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 29.0 3P%

LSU’s late-season struggles have not deterred Cam Thomas from building upon his All-SEC-caliber freshman season. He leads the league in points per game by a healthy margin and, remarkably, has continued to grow it after posting three consecutive outings of 22 points or more. The Tigers fell to No. 10 Alabama last week — their fourth loss in five outings — but Thomas in that game still posted 22 points on 19 shots while hitting two of his four shots from 3-point range. Last week: No. 6

7. Moses Moody, Arkansas

Key stats: 16.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 35.2 3P%

Moody grinded through an ankle injury to play 38 minutes in a win last week over Mississippi State, but it was an inefficient outing on the whole by his own standards. Still, he’s consistently been a bonafide top-10 frosh all season and arguably Arkansas’ most important player. He leads the team in minutes and points, and ranks second in the SEC among all freshmen. Last week: No. 7

8. Mike Miles, TCU

Key stats: 14.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 42.7 3P%

TCU continues to wobble its way through league play, but freshman Mike Miles, a former three-star recruit who signed with TCU as a sub-150 national prospect, looks more and more like one of the biggest recruiting thefts of last cycle. Miles posted a career-high 28 points in a near-win over No. 12 Missouri in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge two weeks ago, then led the Horned Frogs on Wednesday to a win as an underdog over a surging Oklahoma State team. Against the Cowboys, he posted 18 points, five assists, two steals and four rebounds against former AAU teammate and potential No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham. Last week: NR

Key stats: 15.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 31.6 3P%

Several of Arizona State’s games have been interrupted of late because of COVID-19 concerns, but the lack of recent samples isn’t enough to dock Christopher significantly. He’s still been ASU’s go-to bucket-getter as a freshman this season, and prior to the team’s recent hiatus, he was starting to come on strong. Upcoming tilts against Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA and USC will be big tests for him as he tries to finish off the season on a high note. Last week: No. 8

10. Posh Alexander, St. John’s

Key stats: 11.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.5 RPG, 2.7 SPG

St. John’s has played its way from on the bubble to squarely in the NCAA Tournament field with six consecutive wins, and not coincidentally, that has coincided with Posh Alexander’s rise. Just this week alone he put up 16 points, six assists and four boards in a win over No. 3 Villanova, then followed it up with a career-high 21 points in a road win over Providence. This is his first appearance in our Frosh Watch rankings but almost certainly not his last. 

“[Posh] brought the energy. I thought the guys followed his lead,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said after beating No. 3 Villanova and holding them to a season-low 59 points. “This dude’s got the heart of — whoever’s got the biggest heart, this guy might top that. He plays all out on both ends of the floor. Very determined to get our other guys going. He’s a leader.” Last week: NR

Previous FOTW winners:

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