South Carolina Basketball: Gamecock forward in National Freshman of the Year rankings

South Carolina basketball forward Collin Murray-Boyles has burst onto the scene the past month or so as the Columbia native is finally healthy and dominating. He finds himself on On3's Jamie Shaw's National Freshman of the Year Power Rankings.

South Carolina basketball forward Collin Murray-Boyles
South Carolina basketball forward Collin Murray-Boyles / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina basketball fans were excited to see what Columbia native Collin Murray-Boyles could do this season, but even the most optimistic fans couldn't have envisioned what his game has looked like this season.

After being the team's best player in the preseason, Murray-Boyles hit a roadblock in the form of mononucleosis. The illness took him out of action for about a month, and then when he returned to the court, he took another month or so to get back up to speed and conditioning.

Since he hit his stride, the kid known simply as CMB has been a force of nature, and national college basketball analysts are taking notice.

Jon Rothstein has told South Carolina basketball fans how special Murray-Boyles can be by tweeting out "Collin Murray-Boyles: Buy Stock Now" repeatedly. Multiple NBA Draft outlets have started including the young Gamecock in their discussions around this summer's draft and future drafts, and he was selected as the SEC's Freshman of the Week last week.

Despite the slow start to the year because of the mono, On3's Jamie Shaw included Collin Murray-Boyles in his National Freshman of the Year power rankings. Shaw cited the fact that the Gamecocks are 8-2 in Murray-Boyles' starts and the fact that he has been the veteran team's top player in many of those games.

After being impactful in a semi-inconsistent role (not necessarily in minutes but in what he was asked to do), the last two weeks have shown what Murray-Boyles is capable of accomplishing.

Since the calendar turned to February, #30 is averaging 20.5 points per game, 7 rebounds per game, 2 assists per game, 1.5 steals per game, and 1 block per game. He is shooting 75% from the field and has made 12 of his 14 free throws. He has shown All-SEC Defensive Team-caliber stopping ability, and even though he is just 6'7", he has been a good shot blocker who had the most clutch rejection of the season against Ole Miss.

NBA buzz has floated around Murray-Boyles in a big way over the past couple of weeks, so he will have a decision to make this summer. However, there is so much more to his game than he has been able to show this season. He is a good shooter but hasn't shot many jumpers this year because of his late start, and he is more capable of switching to defend players at all five positions. If he returns next year and shows those abilities, he has lottery pick upside.

For now, though, South Carolina basketball is grateful to have one of the best freshmen in the country on their side as they fight for the SEC Championship and a nice seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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