Casto eyes arrival date and life w/ Harmeling

DeANGELO CASTO, THE Class 4A boys basketball player of the year, donned a new uniform Sunday. Clad in cap and gown, he walked down the aisle to receive his diploma from Spokane's Ferris High. The moment culminated a long and uncertain journey. It also opened a door to a new future -- a crimson future, he told CF.C in a wide-ranging interview this week, in which he wants to do "everything right."

Casto said he will be at Washington State in a matter of days and attend his first college class next week.

"I head down on Monday," the 6-8, 235-pound forward said Tuesday. "This is the start of my future. I'm trying to do everything right the first time and get through it strong.

"I got my own place down there with Daven Harmeling. I'm just really happy. (Graduation) was a stamp on the year for me. It's been a struggle but I'm coming out and doing what I want to do and I can't wait to get there," said Casto.

There had been speculation over the past year that Casto would have difficulty gaining academic clearance to play college ball because he moved around so much, attending three high schools in the past four years including two stints at Ferris.

But Casto told CF.C back in April he was getting good marks in his final term and then in May he said he had achieved a score on the ACT that cleared him, with room to spare, for college -- provided, of course, he completed his remaining coursework and graduated.

It all came together for him on Sunday.

"I'm done with high school. It feels really good," he said.

In the process, Casto officially puts the proverbial cherry on top of Tony Bennett's 2008 recruiting class. The group numbered five touted players before WSU made a late offer to Casto in April. When he signed the letter of intent, it sent a thrill wave through the Cougar Nation, while at the same time triggering a collective holding of the breath that he'd make it in.

THE ONE THING Washington State missed most this past season -- a campaign in which the Cougs reached the Sweet 16 -- was the shot-blocking, goal-protecting presence of Ivory Clark.

That type of role would appear tailor made for Casto, as well as fellow incoming Cougar James Watson, a 6-8 leaper from Stringtown, Okla.

Basketball players, particularly in the prep ranks, usually gain more ink for what they do on the offensive end of the court. And the 4A State Player of the Year did plenty in 2007-08, leading Ferris to its second-straight undefeated season and state title. He averaged 14.6 points during the regular season and then picked up his game in the postseason, scoring 18.7 points in nine playoff contests.

But with Casto, it's defense first.

"Crashing the boards and protecting the hoop, I think that's awesome because I consider myself a defensive player first, and then an offensive player," said Casto, who averaged 10 rebounds and four blocks per game last season. In the Class 4A tournament, he set a state record with 25 blocks in four games, including a record-tying eight in the championship game.

That kind of defensive intensity should fit in nicely with Washington State's defensive-oriented philosophy.

"Rebounding, they think that's going to be the biggest key, my rebounding and my jumping ability," Casto said of the Cougar coaching staff. "And then even protecting the basket a little bit, blocking a couple shots. I'm pretty good around the basket, I have a nice shot and everything, but I really like playing defense," said Casto.

CASTO SAID HE'S already started packing for the move to Pullman.

Once he gets there, he'll be greeted by one of the most vocal leaders on the team over the past two seasons. His new roommate, Harmeling, is a fifth-year-senior-to-be who seemingly is tailor-made for helping a youngster get off on the right foot.

"I'll try to keep it down-low and try not to act like I'm a little kid but you can't even imagine how happy I am to be going there," said Casto.

Cougfan Top Stories