Duke needed a big win in the worst way last week when they faced previous No. 10 Baylor at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils were in danger of potentially dropping their fourth game before the turn of the calendar year and simultaneously likely dropping out of both Top 25 polls with a loss.

Enter freshman guard Jared McCain. The top-ranked player from Duke's 2023 recruiting class recorded the best game of his young career in a 78-70 win over Baylor and tied his career high in points (21) and knocked down three 3-pointers in the upset win.

McCain has been in the Duke starting lineup since the season-opener against Dartmouth on Nov. 6, but his role has increased since star guard Tyrese Proctor went down with an ankle injury in the ACC opener to Georgia Tech earlier this month. While Proctor's return is on the horizon, McCain has certainly benefited from his absence and has given Duke another reliable freshman they can count on as the season progresses.

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: Jared McCain, Duke

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.

It's no secret that the absence of Proctor has forced McCain into a larger role within the Duke offense. In three games without Proctor, McCain is averaging 18.3 points and hit his career high in points (21) twice during that span. McCain was considered one of the best 3-point shooters in his class coming into the season and he is certainly living up to that billing — averaging 44.9% from distance on 49 total attempts this season.

McCain ranked as the No. 14 overall player in the 247Sports rankings and was the highest-ranked player in Duke's No. 2 ranked recruiting class that also included five-star TJ Power, four-star Sean Stewart and four-star Caleb Foster. McCain is the only Duke freshman to start every game thus far and he's clearly adjusted to the college game after some early struggles to start the season. McCain's shooting is the ultimate X-Factor and if he continues to hit his shot at a high clip, the Blue Devils will be a tough out come March because of all the veteran experience already on the roster next to him.

Frosh Watch: 2023-24 freshman rankings

1. Isaiah Collier, USC

Stats: 16.1 PPG | 4.3 APG  | 2.9 RPG | 49.2% FG

After fouling out in his last game against Auburn, Collier responded with a respectable performance in a blowout win over Alabama State. Collier recorded 11 points, six assists, five rebounds and only one turnover in 26 minutes. Most importantly, the Trojans won their first game in the month of December after a three-game losing streak that saw them drop to 5-5 after a 4-1 start to the season. Collier's biggest shortcoming to start his college career was his turnovers and he's certainly improved since averaging nearly five per game during the first month of the season. Collier started the season No. 1 on this list and he's held this spot through the first six weeks of Frosh Watch.

2. Ja'Kobe Walter, Baylor

Stats: 15.3 PPG | 3.8 RPG | 1.3 SPG

Welcome back to the No. 2 spot Mr. Walter. After dropping one spot to No. 3 for the first time all season, Walter jumped back up to his usual position after scoring 15 points in a loss to Duke and then coming just short of a career-high by scoring 26 points in 23 minutes during a blowout win of Mississippi Valley State. Walter was in consideration for Freshman of the Week, but the nod ultimately went to McCain because of the head-to-head win and the fact that Mississippi Valley State is 0-12 on the season. Walter can certainly rival McCain as the best 3-point shooter in this freshman class and hit a career-high five shots from distance in that win last week.

3. Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Stats: 14.2 PPG | 4.3 APG | 3.9 RPG | 46.8% FG

After making a brief appearance at the No. 2 spot last week, Dillingham dropped one spot for the only change inside the rankings. The reason for the drop is the perfect storm of Walter putting together two really solid performances and Dillingham not having a real opportunity to match. Dillingham scored 12 points off the bench in a win over in-state rival Louisville last week and he continues to be one of the best players off the bench (not just freshman) in the country. Kentucky coach John Calipari has some real trust in his young guard and that should pay off when the games really start to matter.

4.  Malik MackHarvard

Stats: 20.1 PPG | 4.4 APG | 4.0 RPG

Mack hasn't been in action since scoring 17 points in a win over Army earlier this month and it's unclear when his next appearance will be after the school announced he would be out indefinitely due to mononucleosis. Mack has been the leading scorer amongst all freshmen this season and his absence is a devastating blow for the Crimson. Harvard will need its star guard back as quickly as possible if they want to make some noise in the Ivy League.

5. Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

Stats: 12.6 PPG | 4.6 RPG | 4.3 APG | 58.5% FG

It's hard to put into words how impactful Sheppard has been this season for Kentucky ... this tweet may sum it up.

Sheppard has a serious case to be about three or four spots higher on this list. He's been that good and valuable for the Wildcats. He recorded 11 points, 11 assists, four rebounds and two steals in the win over Louisville and he's in the conversation with his teammate Rob Dillingham for the best reserve in the sport. This freshman class is a major reason why Kentucky (for the first time in years) is so fun to watch.