The Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year is a prestigious award for one select NCAA Men’s Basketball player each year.
Here at College Court Report, we are following the award closely, and will be releasing a bi-monthly watch list for the award.
In our first watch list, College Court Report’s own Bennett and Maverick each offer their Top 5 Candidates and a honourable mention .
Bennett currently ranks LSU forward Ben Simmons as his #1 freshman in the nation, while Maverick has Duke wing Brandon Ingram holds down the #1 spot on his list.
Take a look to see our first official candidate watch list. In typical CCR fashion, it includes a bit of Canadian flare!
Bennett’s Wayman Tisdale Award Candidates:
- Ben Simmons – LSU Tigers
- Regardless of the fact that the LSU Tigers have put together a sub-par performance so far this season as a cohesive unit, it’s nearly impossible to ignore what Ben Simmons has done as a freshman in the NCAA. He’s averaging 20.5 points, 13.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.1 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game, numbers that are unheard of for a freshman in the first half of the year. It will take a Herculean effort from the others on this list to knock Simmons from atop the rankings for the rest of the season.
2. Jamal Murray – Kentucky Wildcats
- The list wouldn’t be complete without a little Canadian flare on it, and that’s where Canada’s next star comes into focus. Jamal Murray burst onto the scene while playing for Canada at the Pan American Games, where he excelled against players much older than him without even playing a game of collegiate basketball himself. He has shown flashes of inconsistency this season, but is by far the Wildcats’ best freshman (sorry, Skal). He’s a threat from three point range, and he has the quickness to drive the lane and at the rim.
3. Brandon Ingram – Duke Blue Devils
- Brandon Ingram has been a star for the Duke Blue Devils over the course of his freshman campaign. From big blocks on defense, to throwing down high-intensity dunks on the other end of the floor, Ingram can do it all for Duke. He’s averaging 16.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game so far this season, which are great numbers when you consider the rest of the talent surrounding him on Duke. If he can add some size and bulk up a bit, the NBA better watch out next season.
4. Jordon Varnado – Troy Trojans
- The only mid-major player to make the list is Troy’s Jordan Varnado. While other freshmen across the country may have more talent and garner more national attention, it’s tough to ignore what Varnado has done on the hardwood for the Trojans. He’s averaging 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a freshman, which are impressive numbers for anyone, let alone a first-year player. His performance is integral to the overall success of Troy this season, which is what lands him on this list. It’s a well-deserved ranking, and people should start to take notice of his talents moving forwards.
5. Malik Beasley – Florida State Seminoles
- The fifth spot on the list was a coin-flip between two players from Florida State. In the end, Malik Beasley edges out teammate Dwayne Bacon, although they have almost identical stat lines. Beasley has been able to step in and help the Seminoles on both ends of the floor from the outset of his collegiate career. He has taken some of the burden off Xavier Rathan-Mayes on offense averaging 17.0 points per game this season. In doing so, Beasley has made the Seminoles a much better team overall, and he could be in for a big second half of the season.
Honorable Mention: Dwayne Bacon – Florida State Seminoles
Maverick’s Wayman Tisdale Award Candidates:
- Brandon Ingram- Wing, Duke Blue Devils
- What puts Ingram in my #1 spot over Ben Simmons is his versatility as a player. At 6’9” and 190 pounds, Ingram is now forced to play power forward for the Blue Devils due to the injury of Amile Jefferson, after playing the wing for most of the year. Since Jefferson’s injury with Ingram playing at the PF position he has recorded: 123 pts, 49 rebounds, 9 blocks, and 13 steals while shooting 58.8% from the floor and 41.1% from three point range in only six games. Look for Brandon Ingram to be the Lakers’ top prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft. In my opinion, Ingram draws a skill set comparison to the Warriors Draymond Green, and could be a star in the league for years to come for Los Angeles.
2. Ben Simmons- Forward, LSU Tigers
Current Stats: 20.1 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.4 bpg, 58.7 FG%
- While Bennett may have Ben Simmons as his #1 Freshman of the Year Candidate, I have Simmons as the second best freshman in the nation. Simmons is on a LSU team that you don’t know which Tigers’ team will show up on game day. They can either be really good, like in their 85-67 win over #9 Kentucky, or bad, like in their 70-58 loss to College of Charleston. For me, Simmons is the team’s leader in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game. Come March, teams will look to shut down Simmons and force other LSU players to step up. According to several NBA Mock Drafts, Ben Simmons is the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. However, I think he would be a better fit with the Pelicans than with the 76ers. (See why in my NBA Mock Draft in May)
- Stat: The last time a LSU freshman won the Wayman Tisdale Award was the inaugural year of the award in 1988-1989 when Chris Jackson, the former Tigers’ point guard and the 3rd overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, won the award.
3. Jamal Murray- Guard, Kentucky Wildcats
Current Stats: 17.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 41.4 FG%. 38.3% 3PT
- Our fellow Canadian star in the making comes in at my #3 spot on my Freshman of the Year Award watch-list. When people talk about Kentucky basketball in recent years, they tend to focus on the Kentucky big men that Coach Calipari brings in. But, the guards he brings in are just as good. The Kitchener, Ontario native has scored in double-digit points in all but one game this season for the Wildcats. He also has recorded a made three pointer in all of Kentucky’s games up to this point in the season. At 6’5” and 207 pounds, he has the size to be a strong combo guard in the NBA, and would be a good fit for the Denver Nuggets in my opinion.
4. Henry Ellenson- Forward, Marquette Golden Eagles
Current Stats: 16.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.5bpg, 42.2 FG%
- Henry Ellenson solidified his spot in my watch-list for Freshman of the Year following his performance in Marquette’s 65-64 win over Providence Tuesday night. Ellenson provided a crucial shot block in the closing seconds to win the game for Marquette. Through 15 games this season, Ellenson has 9 double-doubles, including his season best performance in his first career game in the season opener against Belmont (21 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block). At 6’10” and 245 pounds, he has an NBA-ready frame, and he has the look of a Top 15 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. I personally think he will get drafted by the Washington Wizards.
5. Zac Seljaas- Guard, BYU Cougars
Current Stats: 7.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 58.1 FG%
- The fifth candidate on my Freshman of the Year Watch-List is a player that not many have been talking about this season. Seljaas is currently making an impressive 62.2% of his shots from three point range this season, hitting on 28 shots from long distance. Seljaas will need to find more of an offensive game if he wants to climb up in the watch-list, or he could end up being the next Jimmer Fredette BYU sensation (not in a good way).
- Bennett: Seljaas has the talent to be a star over his career with the Cougars, but adding more to his overall offensive repertoire could help him become a household name in the NCAA.
- Stat: No BYU freshman has ever won the Wayman Tisdale Award
Honorable: C.J. Bryce- Guard, UNC-Wilmington Seahawks
What are your thoughts on Bennett’s and Maverick’s candidates for the Freshman of the Year Award?? Have your voice heard by leaving us your thoughts in the comment section below!