At the start of last week, Colorado freshman guard Julian Hammond III was averaging 7.8 minutes in eight appearances.
Hammond had no reason to believe his role as the third option among small guards behind Keeshawn Barthelemy and KJ Simpson would be any different during the Buffaloes’ first two-game homestand within Pac-12 Conference play.
After Simpson was injured early against Washington State, that changed. Ultimately, Hammond thrived in the sudden pinch-hitter role, and on Monday the former Cherry Creek two-sport star was rewarded for his clutch performances with the Pac-12 freshman of the week honor.
Hammond is the second CU freshman to win the honor this season — Simpson won it on Nov. 29 — and the third overall since the honor’s inception before the 2019-20 season. Jabari Walker won the award once last season.
Simpson went down after absorbing a shot to the head late in the first half of Thursday’s win against Washington State, but Hammond filled the void. Although he scored only two points against the Cougars, Hammond finished with an impressive overall stat line of five rebounds, four assists, and four steals in 14 minutes. The steals total matched Luke O’Brien’s four steals against Maine on Nov. 15 for the most by a CU player this season.
Simpson remained sidelined for Sunday’s win against UW, but Hammond once again more than offset the loss. This time the freshman guard found his shooting touch, going 4-for-4 from 3-point range before finishing with a season-high 14 points.
In those two games, Hammond produced the top scoring game this season among CU’s three active freshmen (Hammond, Simpson, and Lawson Lovering), and also posted the third-best rebounding total, top steals mark, and top assists mark (tying three four-assist games from Simpson) among the Buffs’ rookies.
Hammond has gone 8-for-12 on 3-pointers this season.
Player of the week
The Pac-12’s overall player of the week award went to UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell, who shot 61% (11-for-18) in a pair of victories.
Campbell recorded a double-double in the Bruins’ home rout of Long Beach State, finishing with 11 points and 10 assists without a turnover. Campbell also starred in a road win against Cal, going 7-for-10 overall and 2-for-3 on 3-pointers before finishing with 17 points, four assists, and three steals.
Campbell leads the Pac-12 with an assist-to-turnover rate of 4.33.
The latest Pac-12 NET rankings, through Sunday’s games: Arizona (2), USC (12), UCLA (20), Washington State (49), Oregon (91), Colorado (95), Stanford (101), Cal (120), Utah (121), Arizona State (147), Washington (183), Oregon State (205)…All three ranked Pac-12 teams moved up two spots in the latest AP Top 25 released Monday. The new spots: No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 USC, No. 6 Arizona…USC’s ranking is the program’s highest since reaching No. 5 in December of 1974…Arizona will have played just one game (a Jan. 3 home win against Washington) over 22 days if the Buffs tip off as planned in Tucson on Thursday night (9 p.m. MT, FS1).