The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 39   2018 BASKETBALL RECRUITING ISSUE reasons, but the fit, camaraderie with teammates, U-M's academics and the opportunity to play for Beilein all were major factors. He spoke with Wagner and several of the team's freshmen this season to get more of a feel for how things would be. The na- tion's No. 7 center added that Beilein always tells the truth, which stuck with him. "He gives you a heart-to-heart talk no matter if you're going to go there or not," Castleton said. "Just as a person, everybody he talks to he's so genuine [with] and that's what every- body says about him. He's the same person every time." Beilein wasn't the only Michigan coach that played a role in his recruit- ment. Assistant Luke Yaklich, who was recruiting Castleton while he was still at Illinois State, made the big man his first call as a U-M coach — something that always stuck with the prospect. The two have a strong relationship. The U-M staff has told Castleton that he needs to bulk up to be able to handle the physical play that comes with Big Ten basketball. He's hoping to be at 225 or 230 pounds by the time he arrives in Ann Arbor in late June. "My main focus right now in high school and finishing out the year is just putting on a lot of weight," Cas- tleton said. "That's the main thing I need to work on, so I'm getting in the weight room a lot and working on that for the physicality." He has the ability to be both an offensive and defensive threat, and could earn significant playing time sooner than some might expect. Cen- ter Jon Teske, who will be a junior next season, is expected to start, but Castleton could challenge redshirt sophomore big man Austin Davis for backup minutes. Castleton's shooting ability could make the difference. "I love blocking shots, I like chas- ing after the ball, grabbing defensive rebounds," Castleton said. "Just do- ing that and being able to separates myself from other bigs. "I love offense, too, but defense is a big thing." Another part of Castleton's game that may get overlooked — his tough- ness and stamina. "I never took him out of the game," Miller said. "He played 32 minutes every game. I think the biggest im- provement from last year to this year was playing 32 minutes, literally get- ting after it every play defensively and offensively. Just being a force and mak- ing it really tough for teams to score." Gaining weight will help him be able to play for longer stretches at the college level and will allow him to take on other big men. He never had a problem facing bigger players at the high school level, including not backing down from Duke commit Zion Williamson, who is the No. 5 overall recruit in the nation according to, when their two teams faced off, scoring 12 points. He does, however, still need to improve on his one-on-one defense. Central Florida Christian Academy head coach Jonathan McClintock, whose team knocked off Castleton's in 2017, had extremely high praise for the future Wolverine. "He's an intelligent kid," Mc- Clintock said. "He's a very smart bas- ketball player, and always keeps an even mindset and temperament. He was far and away the best kid on his team and sometimes the guys around him could've helped him a little more — and that can become frustrating for a high-level kid. He was so good with his teammates, though. "His temperament was always the same, whether things were going good or bad. He played the game at a constant pace, and that can be hard to do sometimes." He won't have to worry about be- ing the lone star player at Michigan. The national runner-ups from 2018 are returning several starters and other key players, not to mention the rest of the incoming freshman class. Castleton has kept in contact with the rest of the crew and is excited to finally make it up to campus. He's still waiting to find out which player will be his roommate, but hopes to get that squared away soon. "My mindset is to get back to the national championship again next year and win it," Castleton said. "I don't want to sell ourselves short and say anything less. "With who we have coming in and what they had last year, just meshing it together, I really firmly believe we can go all the way again and win it. That's our main goal." ❏ Castleton on being compared to Wagner "It means a lot because I love the way he plays. He's such a versatile player and you can see how the schools that they play, they don't know what to do or how to guard him." Castleton (with assistants Saddi Washington, Luke Yaklich and head coach John Beilein) was ranked by as the No. 7 center and No. 87 overall prospect in the class of 2018. PHOTO COURTESY COLIN CASTLETON

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