UConn freshman Stephon Castle appears to be hitting his stride at the right time.

The 6-foot-6 guard missed some time earlier this season for the reigning national champions because of a knee injury and is playing the best basketball of his career as of late. Castle scored a career-high 21 points in a win over St. John's just days after dropping 20 points in a win over Providence

Castle came into the season with legit NBA Draft lottery buzz and his stock is rising. UConn lost multiple key players from its championship roster last season but reloaded with Castle, a former five-star recruit and Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer

Heading into the final month of the regular season, UConn looks like the team to beat. The Huskies have arguably the highest floor of any team in the country right now and if Castle continues to improve, their ceiling will grow. 

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: Stephon Castle, UConn

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.

The former No. 9 overall prospect in the 2023 recruiting class by 247Sports has been massive for coach Dan Hurley in the last few games. Castle showed flashes of his five-star billing during the first two games of the season before suffering a knee injury that required a minor procedure. While his minutes and production have fluctuated since his Dec. 5 return against North Carolina, his high-level play could be the difference in UConn's quest to repeat as champions.

Castle is in good standing as far as the NBA Draft goes. Castle should be a projected lottery pick and could jump even higher if he continues to play at this level. The 2024 NBA Draft is expected to be unpredictable at the top, which opens the door for players like Castle to soar up draft boards.

Frosh Watch: Top 10 freshman rankings

1. PJ HaggertyTulsa

Stats: 19.8 PPG | 4.7 RPG | 3.5 APG | 47.9% FG

The leading scorer amongst all freshmen continues to play at a high level despite his team's lack of success in AAC play. Haggerty dropped 23 points in a win over Wichita State and followed it up by scoring 25 points in 31 minutes in a blowout loss to FAU. Haggetty shot an efficient 10 of 16 from the floor (with zero 3-point attempts) and went 5 of 6 from the charity stripe. Pending a disastrous final moment, Haggerty will finish as the top scorer in the group. Last week: 1

2. Myles Rice, Washington State

Stats: 15.7 PPG | 3.7 APG | 2.6 RPG

In his lone outing of the week, Rice recorded 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals in an overtime win over rival Washington. The Cougars have won six of their last seven games and are firmly in contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they keep playing like this. Rice is the leader to win Pac-12 Freshmen of the Year and is a major reason why WSU is headed toward its first tournament appearance since 2008. Last week: 2

3. Jared McCain, Duke

Stats: 12.9 PPG | 4.6 RPG | 39.8% 3FG

McCain is playing like Duke's best NBA prospect. The star freshman met the moment during a loss to UNC by recording his second double-double (23 points, 11 rebounds) this season. McCain is an elite rebounder for his size and is one of the best 3-point shooters in the ACC. McCain has a chance to become the third Duke freshman in the last 25 years to shoot above 40% from distance on over five attempts per game. Former Duke stars Gary Trent Jr. (40.2% on 6.5 attempts) and Brandon Ingram (41% on 5.4 attempts) both accomplished the feat during their first season. Last week: 6

4. Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

Stats: 12.3 PPG | 4.3 RPG | 4.2 APG | 53.4% FG

Kentucky has lost three of its last four games but Sheppard continues to be a bright spot. The star freshman scored 24 points and added eight rebounds and six assists in an overtime loss to Florida and followed it up days later by recording 16 points, six assists and five rebounds against Tennessee. Sheppard was ranked as the No. 1 freshmen for multiple weeks and there's still an argument to be made that he's been the best of the entire bunch.

Last week: 4

5. Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

Stats: 15.3 PPG | 3.9 APG | 3.1 RPG

Dillingham joined some pretty prestigious company at Kentucky following his 35-point performance in a loss to Tennessee. He scored the fourth-most points in a single game in the John Calipari era and became the third player (joining Gonzaga's Domantas Sabots and Arkansas' Mason Jones) to score 35+ points in the Rick Barnes era at Tennessee. The electric guard has scored in double figures 17 times this season and has four outings of at least 20 points. Last week: 7

6. Ja'Kobe WalterBaylor

Stats: 14.5 PPG | 4.6 RPG | 1.2 SPG

Walter is going through a shooting slump at the moment. He shot 1 of 4 against UCF and 2 of 10 against Iowa State last weekend. Both performances came after Walter shot 2 of 12 from the floor in a triple-overtime loss to TCU last month. Walter is one of the top 3-point shooters in his class but he's 8 of 35 from distance in his last six games. Walter will figure it out, but the slump is why he dropped a few spots. Last week: 3

7. Isaiah Collier, USC

Stats: 15.4 PPG | 4.1 APG  | 2.6 RPG | 50.6% FG

Collier remains out because of a hand injury but it sounds like his return could be on the horizon. USC coach Andy Enfield told reporters Monday after practice that the star freshman is getting closer to a return. 

"We're hopeful that possibly this week, maybe next week," Enfield said. 

USC certainly misses him. Last week: 5

8. Malik MackHarvard

Stats: 18.8 PPG | 4.6 APG | 3.8 RPG

Mack scored 18 points and dished out a season-high eight assists in a win over Columbia. Mack followed up that performance by scoring 19 points against Cornell. Mack has scored in double figures in 15 of his 16 games this season. Last week: 10

9. Cody WilliamsColorado

Stats: 14.7 PPG | 3.7 RPG  | 1.9 APG | 57.9% FG

Williams missed Colorado's last game against Utah with an injury and his status for this week's game against Arizona State is unclear. 

"We'll see," Colorado coach Tad Boyle told reporters earlier this week. "I'm encouraged with Cody, even though he didn't practice (Monday)." 

Williams has missed nine total games this season. The Buffaloes will need their star freshman to get healthy ASAP if they want to get off the bubble and receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Last week: 8

10. Carlton Carrington, Pitt

Stats: 13.7 PPG | 5.1 RPG | 4.2 APG

Carrington replaces Kentucky guard D.J. Wagner on this list. Wagner has missed the past few games because of an ankle injury, which opened the door for Carrington to re-join this list after standout performances against Wake Forest and Notre Dame. Carrington recorded a career-high 24 points, five rebounds and four assists and followed it up by scoring 16 points days later. Last week: NR

Others considered: UConn's Stephon Castle, UCLA's Sebastian Mack, Mississippi State's Josh Hubbard, Kentucky's D.J. Wagner, Iowa State's Milan Momcilovic, Oregon's Jackson Shelstad, Baylor's Yves Missi, North Carolina's Elliot Cadeau and Notre Dame's Markus Burton.