Casto definitely leaving Cougars

FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2011, 4:23 P.M.

PULLMAN – Junior center DeAngelo Casto has left Washington State University and will be filing the paperwork next week to enter the NBA draft.

“I’ve been told I can make it in the NBA (and that’s) my dream,” Casto said Friday, reached in Las Vegas where he has been training at the Impact Basketball facility, “but I’m not opposed to going overseas and making money that way too for a year and then coming back.”

Casto, who came to WSU in 2008 after leading Ferris High to consecutive State 4A titles, said he has not officially signed with an agent but does have representation and expects to come to an agreement soon.

Though the 6-foot-8 Casto doesn’t appear to be too high on the NBA’s radar – he’s not listed on any of the numerous mock drafts available online – he said his decision is motivated by financial considerations.

“There are a lot of reasons, but mainly for paper value,” said Casto, who became a father before last season. “My kid, my son, I want to support him. I have to be able to support him, take care of him, provide for him.

“It didn’t look like I would be able to maintain financially if I stayed.”

Casto’s journey to Pullman was a circuitous one, starting as a child in East St. Louis, where he became part of the foster system before being adopted by a Freeman-area couple, Stacy and Duane Casto.

His high school career began at Freeman but he transferred to Ferris midway through his sophomore year and helped the Saxons to the state title as a junior.

He started his senior year at Franklin High in Seattle, but returned to Spokane, moved in with a South Hill family, and, despite eligibility questions, was cleared to play by the WIAA. Another undefeated state title season followed.

Recruited to WSU by then coach Tony Bennett, as a freshman Casto came off the bench and averaged 4.4 points and 4.0 rebounds, though he was second on the Cougars in blocked shots with 39.

Over the past two seasons under coach Ken Bone, Casto started, saw his scoring average rise to 12.0 this last season and emerged as WSU’s top rebounder (6.8 a game as a junior) and shot blocker (his career total of 165 is second on WSU’s all-time list).

“We appreciate DeAngelo’s efforts on the basketball court,” Bone said Friday. “He contributed a lot to our program. We wish him well.”

Casto was the third of three WSU players cited this past year for misdemeanor marijuana possession and was suspended by Bone. After he hired an attorney, who immediately filed a motion to dismiss and challenged the circumstances around the arrest, WSU athletic director Bill Moos reinstated Casto for an NIT quarterfinal game against Northwestern. The Cougars won in overtime.

A hearing on Casto’s motion to suppress is scheduled for Tuesday morning in Whitman County District Court.

Though Casto has quit attending classes, he said he’s “definitely getting” his degree, because he understands that basketball is “a blink of an eye compared to how long you really are alive.”

“As much as I want to provide for my son now, and do things now, basketball won’t last, basketball will end just like everything else,” he added. “I want to be able to maintain a job and support my family.”

But he admitted to having trouble in school because of poor study habits, though he said he was never ineligible.

“School was so hard for me,” he said, adding he has over a year left before he can graduate. “The fact that I played every semester is a tribute to the work I’ve done and the time people, like my tutors, have put in.”

And it’s the people he’ll miss.

“I want to thank the fans for all the support and all the people in Pullman who helped me get where I am today,” he said. “Coming to Pullman was one of the best decisions I ever made and I’m glad I was a Coug.”

Actually, he said, there is one other thing he’ll miss.

“I going to miss coming out of the tunnel for Washington State,” he said. “It was an experience unlike any other. Even if you weren’t ready to play the game, when you stepped on to Beasley, a home game, crowd’s roaring, you played.”

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