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Living up to the hype as a touted recruit isn't easy. Each season, players ranked near the top of said recruiting rankings struggle to find a rhythm at the college level and either spend multiple years in school and/or never make it to the NBA. The stress can be ten fold when your dad is a legendary player from the program. 

That's exactly the position UNLV point guard Dedan Thomas Jr. has found himself in because he is the son of former UNLV star Dedan Thomas Sr. If that wasn't enough already, the younger Thomas elected to reclassify up to join the program a year early.

The preseason Mountain West Freshman of the Year had his most complete performance last week — recording 16 points, nine assists and six rebounds in an upset win over then No. 8 Creighton. He followed that up by scoring a career-high 24 points in a double-overtime loss to Saint Mary's days later.

It's safe to say that both of his decisions are paying off.

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: Dedan Thomas Jr., UNLV

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.

Coming out of Liberty High School in nearby Henderson, Nevada, Thomas ranked as the No. 34 recruit by 247Sports. Thomas elected to stay close to home and picked UNLV over Arizona, Florida, Gonzaga, Houston and UCLA, and the move appears to be paying off through the first eight weeks of the season. Thomas is averaging 13.6 points per game and his 6.0 assists per game ranks first among all freshman in the country. 

The playmaking ability that Thomas has shown as a younger freshman has been impressive. Thomas proved through the first month and a half of the season that he can be a reliable shooter from the midrange, convert floaters around the rim and explode to the basket. 

Thomas turned the ball over five times in his first college game on Nov. 8 against Southern but has since only turned the ball over 12 times in the past eight games. Thomas will continue to rise up draft boards if he continues to play at a steady pace while simultaneously turning the ball over at a low rate.

Frosh Watch: Top five freshman rankings

1. Isaiah Collier, USC

Stats: 16.6 PPG | 4.1 APG  | 2.7 RPG | 49.6% FG

Is Collier going to be the latest top-ranked college basketball freshman to not appear in the NCAA Tournament? With the way that USC has been playing recently, it certainly appears the Trojans are heading in that direction after another nonconference loss to Auburn this past weekend. Collier didn't have his best performance against the Tigers and scored 13 points in only 18 minutes while playing a majority of the game in foul trouble. Collier has been top-ranked player in Frosh Watch since its inception, and despite the lackluster play from his team he has still been the best freshman in the country.

2. Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Stats: 14.4 PPG | 4.5 APG | 4.1 RPG | 46.1% FG

For the first time this season, there is a new No. 2. Baylor's Ja'Kobe Walter has occupied this spot alongside Collier, but after Dillingham's latest performance on the big stage against North Carolina, it's hard to not move him up the leaderboard. Dillingham has been Coach Cal's most reliable freshman off the bench, and he brings a steady presence to a new offensive philosophy that emphasizes 3-point shooting for the first time in a ... very long time. His 17 points against North Carolina was a team-high and it appears Calipari is trusting his young point guard to run the offense.

3. Ja'Kobe Walter, Baylor

Stats: 14.3 PPG | 3.8 RPG | 1.3 SPG

The film from Baylor's loss to Michigan State last weekend is something you should watch once and then throw it away forever. It was that bad, especially in the first half. Walter's performance against the Spartans (nine points in 33 minutes) wasn't the only reason why he dropped one spot. Dillingham has simply just been that good and deserved the bump. Walter is still an elite NBA prospect that will continue to grow once Big 12 play starts next month. In the meantime, Walter will have a chance to redeem himself when Baylor takes on Duke Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

4.  Malik MackHarvard

Stats: 20.1 PPG | 4.4 APG | 4.0 RPG

There's not really a ton of new information that can be said about Mack due to his Harvard team being idle last week. Mack deserves to hold firm at No. 4 because he's been the top scoring freshman in the country and is one of only 26 Division l basketball players averaging more than 20 points per game. Mack was severely overlooked coming out go high school and should be a candidate to be a freshman All-American when all is said and done.

5. Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

Stats: 12.8 PPG | 4.7 RPG | 3.6 APG | 59.2% FG

Kentucky's No. 1 recruiting class features five players in the rotation for Coach Cal. The two most consistent players of that group (Dillingham and Sheppard) both have come off the bench all season. Sheppard struggled against Penn last weekend but bounced back by stuffing the stat sheet in a win over UNC. Aaron Bradshaw, Justin Edwards and D.J. Wagner were all top-five recruits in the 2023 recruiting cycle and have all showed flashes of their five-star billing. With that said, it's hard to overlook how impactful and consistent Sheppard and Dillingham have been for No. 9 Kentucky. It's a big reason why this could be the year the Wildcats make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.