PC Coach Ed Cooley has focused hard on New Jersey big man Rafael Castro
By KEVIN McNAMARA
Rafael Castro, a 6-9 scoring forward from New Jersey, is scheduled to pick a college Thursday night. That school is likely to be Providence College, sources close to his recruitment told KevinMcSports.
Castro hails from Dover High School, a small school that sits about 40 miles west of New York City. He has starred for a few years now at Dover and on the AAU scene with Team Rio University and reportedly narrowed his college picks to Providence, Miami and Dayton.
Providence, however, has emerged as his top choice.
Asked why PC is so high on the 6-10 forward’s list, coach Brian Coleman from Team Rio answered with what is a familiar refrain to Friar fans.
“Jeff Battle (PC assistant coach) started out recruiting Slim but then Coach Cooley saw something in him,” Coleman said. “I have never seen a head coach recruit a player this hard. He’s really recruited the kid and his family.”
In every recruiting class Cooley chooses to deploy a laser-like focus on a few targets. He was the personal recruiter for Bryce Hopkins, the top 30 recruit who picked Kentucky. Now he’s focused on adding Castro to the team’s frontcourt.
Castro dominated at small school Dover, averaging 20.3 points, 16.3 rebounds, 4.7 blocks, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. His summer action with Team Rio University program on the Under Armour circuit was severely limited by the pandemic. Here are some highlights that show Castro’s versatile package of skills.
Here is an intriguing evaluation of Castro by Corey Evans, a former prep evaluator for Rivals who now works for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Right from the start, the length that Castro possesses stands out. However, he is not just a lanky big man that can block a shot every now and again but rather an uberly-versatile forward that is tremendously coordinated in which he exchanges ends of the floor like someone six inches shorter, has great lateral abilities in moving side to side, and quick feet in getting to balls before others around the basket.
“A tremendously talented defender that reminds me some of Jaxson Hayes, Castro does have to get much stronger and work on his low post game and left hand around the basket. He scores more times than not at the goal and has good touch and innate toughness in finishing through contact. Better yet, he is a tremendous lob threat, works the dunker’s spot well along the baseline and seems to flourish as a rim runner whenever the speed of the game picks up.
“Offensively, Castro is not a finished product but he is also not unrefined, either. He can comfortably hit the catch and shoot jumper to 20-feet and has a solid feel for the game, regardless of whether his back is to the basket or is facing it. He is a good passer that can make the appropriate play in the half-court and brings quality instincts to both sides of the floor.”
Coleman has helped tutor several New Jersey area big man – like Lakers rookie Naz Reid – and says he loves Castro’s upside.
“We first got him I think he was a freshman and he was, like, 6-7. Now he’s all of 6-10 and I think he might be 6-11. He’s still growing,” Coleman said. “The first thing I noticed is he’d try to block every shot and chase rebounds. I tell him now, he’s making threes and putting the ball on the floor but if he stays that active on defense, he can make some money in this game.”
Castro is announcing his college pick Thursday at around 7 p.m.