Casto continues to embrace underdog mentality

DEANGELO CASTO

DEANGELO CASTO HAS long dreamed of playing in the NBA, but the former Washington State basketballer says he would be perfectly content to start his pro career in Europe.

"It's not bad at all," DeAngelo Casto said Saturday in a phone interview from Las Vegas, where he has been training. "With the (potential NBA) lockout, Europe might be a spot you end up in, even if you weren't planning on it. A lot of NBA players are going to land there (if there's a lockout). I'm not really worried.

"I know I'm going to make money, because I'm focused, I've got a good head on my shoulders, I'm fighting."

Casto, who said he is passing up his senior year to provide for his girlfriend and their infant son, said he is not surprised his name does not appear in any mock NBA drafts.

"If the draft was held today, there's no way in hell I'd be drafted, because I'm not a player that people have been looking at to be drafted," Casto said. "They don't know much about me. They don't know enough about me in order for me to be ‘up there,' but they will."

Casto said he expects to work out for "anywhere from three to 10" NBA teams next month before the June 23 draft. He said a recent invitation-only camp for 44 NBA prospects in New Jersey "went well for me," but the 6-foot-8 forward admits not everyone is convinced he's ready for the NBA.

"You hear a lot of different things," Casto said. "Some guys really love my game, really love my intensity. Some guys are like, ‘Oh, you've got so much you've got to work on.' I mean, it just ranges. The beauty of this, I guess, right now is that I don't have ‘stock'. I wasn't praised in high school. People didn't think a lot of me, really in college."

Some might question the latter comments. Casto was Washington's high school player of the year as a senior at Ferris in Spokane. He made the Pac-10 all-conference second team this past season, and he was named to the Pac-10 All-Defensive team the past two years.

In a wide-ranging interview, Casto said he was unhappy with some media coverage of his career (dating back to high school) and with negative reader comments about him on the internet.

"Why don't you write a story about how much I meant to the (WSU basketball) program and the lack of respect for who I am and my game?" Casto asked. "It's just funny. But I'm not really stressin' about it no more, because you know, that stuff really doesn't matter in the grand scale of life. It doesn't really matter at all.

"The fact I can dunk a basketball won't matter in a little bit, anyway. The thing that matters is the person right here (his son) that's been trying to get me to pick him up the last 20 minutes."

Cougfan.com and numerous Pacific Northwest newspapers have published full-length feature articles about Casto's difficult childhood and his development into a top Pac-10 player.

Washington State coach Ken Bone routinely lavished Casto with praise this past season in particular. On Saturday, Casto declined to go into detail about his relationship with Bone, but TheHoopsReport.com recently quoted Casto as being critical of Bone, who replaced Tony Bennett (who recruited Casto and coached him as a freshman) after Bennett left for Virginia two years ago.

"Another guy (Bone) came in who was completely and ultimately unsupportive of who I was," Casto said in the article. "He just didn't fully understand who I was or what I was or what I brought to the team. We constantly butted heads and we constantly didn't get along."

Due to WSU's lack of size and talent on the front line the past two years, Casto was essentially forced to become an undersized center. Casto said he "couldn't do a lot of things" in terms of expanding his offensive game under Bone.

Casto said his offensive game has improved in Las Vegas under the guidance of former NBA player John Block and, to a lesser degree, veteran Milwaukee Bucks forward Corey Magette.

"I've got good coaches," Casto said.

Casto said he hated to see Bennett leave WSU.

"Tony brought me in, then Tony was gone," Casto said. "That's the business side of this world. That's the business side of college, that coaches do leave and we are just kids."

Casto said he plans to eventually earn his psychology degree, and he wants to work as a counselor after his playing days are finished. In the next few weeks, Casto expects to learn if he will start his pro career in the United States or overseas.

"I ask myself that every day," he said. "After I work out, I feel like, ‘OK, I'm going to be drafted.' I'm a player with confidence. I'm a player that most people haven't seen."

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