Chris Lowery and Wildcats enter picture for 2024 guard
Kansas State's hunt for future Wildcats resulted in a recent offer to 2024 Bartlesville, Oklahoma point guard David Castillo.
It so happens that his head basketball coach is former K-State hooper Clent Stewart. KSO spoke extensively with Stewart to discover more about his 2024 gem, his game and why the Wildcats are on him so early in the process.
"David had a phenomenal freshman year," Stewart said. "He averaged 23 points, five rebound and four assists. For a freshman to put up 23 in 6A basketball (in Oklahoma) is impressive. It's the top class and top teams in the state, and night in and night out he's playing against juniors and seniors that are trying to stop him. What I thought he did last year was phenomenal. It really set him up as we headed into the spring and summer seasons, where he kind of kicked off his recruitment."
The first programs to make a move on the budding high schooler were local.
"Tulsa was the first jump with Frank Haith there, being local, and then about a week and a half later Oklahoma State and Mike Boynton offered him," Stewart divulged. "It has been crazy. I talked to Frank Martin of course of South Carolina, my old coach. They jumped on board and offered him last week and now K-State has jumped in as well."
"It is just the beginning for David as a 2024," he continued. "He has a bright future and he is still probably about two to two and a half years from making his decision. He is taking everything in and enjoying it."
Stewart knew about the Castillo family well before he received the chance to coach the 2024 product.
"I got the opportunity to actually coach David's older brother in AAU as the Bartlesville head coach his senior year," Steward explained. "We knew about David when he was in second or third grade. We knew he was going to be talented and it has been fun to watch him grow over the years to now, and he will continue to get better over these next three years.
It didn't come as much of a surprise to Stewart to see the local schools jump in and budge on the standout 2024 guard before others.
"A lot of people in the state of Oklahoma know about him through the AAU circuit as one of the better athletes and talents in the state," he clarified. "Coaches around the state were always saying 'you got a good one coming.' Of course we knew it as well, but it is a testament to him that he's been put in this position."
He also discussed his ability on the floor.
"One of the things with David, he's played up grades, and has done so for his whole life," Stewart revealed. "Playing with older, maybe more physically developed kids doesn't phase him. He plays very under control. He's more mature than his age because he has always played against older guys, which is something college coaches really like."
"Obviously he can score," he added. "He can shoot and can handle the basketball with the best of them. I also think his decision-making with the ball is really good. He sees the floor really well and is able to make cross-court passes from the top right slot, to the corner on the opposite end. Just reading the game is something he's gotten really good at, especially over the summer, which is big for us at the high school level because everyone will be keying in on him. Just trying to become a pure point guard and still be able to score the basketball, but getting others involved are also what coaches are zoning in on."
"He can play off the ball as well because he can shoot it so well coming off screens and creating in that action. But, he's really good with the ball in his hands on the screen action, reading the defense and making the right play. He's also tough when he's going downhill. He shot nine free throws a game at the high school level, which for a freshman is unheard of. He can get downhill and he looks for contact and creates contact instead of shying away from it. He's really tough with the ball in his hands and he's really good at making the right play and making the guys around him better."
Associate head coach Chris Lowery and head coach Bruce Weber have been the two to speak with Stewart about Castillo and what they like about him.
"What Coach Lowery mentioned to me is just how mature he is on the floor with the basketball," Stewart said. "Coach Weber thought he was 16U and a 2023. That is what the staff really likes about him along with his basketball IQ.
"I think what you see on the AAU level sometimes is kids can get selfish and want to make themselves look good, and David just doesn't play that way. He knows he can score the basketball, but he loves getting his teammates involved. That really shows in the way he plays on the court, and that's really going to translate to the next level. Unless you're Michael Beasley or Kevin Durant, normally as a freshman you're going to have opportunities, but there's also going to be older guys that are going to be talented on your team as well."
Bartlesville, Oklahoma isn't only the home of one former Kansas State athlete. Recently graduated defensive back AJ Parker grew up in the town, was coached by Clent Stewart, and is really close with the Castillo family.
"I got a chance to coach AJ in basketball for two years," Stewart noted. "When I came in, he was a junior and obviously a multi-sport athlete. I love AJ and his family. Him and David's brother are all actually really good friends and keep in touch and AJ looks at David as a little brother. The families are close, which is good."
Stewart has plenty of K-State pride from being a four-year student athlete in Manhattan from 2004-2008.
"Me being a K-State alum and former player, I have a lot of love for Manhattan and a lot of love for Kansas State and the community, fanbase and alumni," he pointed out. "It's home for me. Even though coaches have changed, I have a lot of great memories at Kansas State and wouldn't change it for the world. It's a special place for me. And here in Bartlesville, there's a lot of K-State alumni. When I first came to work for Phillips 66, there was like five or six of us K-State grads that came and worked for the company at the same time."
The last thing Stewart and I discussed was a timetable for Castillo.
"With it still being early, he's still taking everything in day-by-day and enjoying the process," Stewart explained. "We'll see when that time comes when he's ready to take his official visits and what schools have all offered him. There are a lot of things that factor in for him, and we've already talked about that. Sometimes, some kids can get locked on one thing and not think about everything that goes into the school you're about to go play for."
"The fit, coach and community are all factors," he continued. "If he wants to play at the professional level, what does that opportunity look like at certain schools? He knows it's not a one-stop shop.
"I like to tell people, sometimes the most shiny object or the big blueblood school might not be the best fit for an individual. Case in point is Bryce Thompson. Five-star athlete out of Oklahoma, went to Kansas and just didn't fit. It's not a knock on his game, just not the right fit for him. So now he transferred to Oklahoma State, which I think will be a better fit and we will see more success from him this year."
"Fit is a big factor for David, and he knows that. I'm just excited for him and he's excited as well."