Basketball: David Castillo brings home gold medal – Examiner Enterprise - Techy Hunters


Saturday, September 4, 2021

Basketball: David Castillo brings home gold medal – Examiner Enterprise

Throughout the coming years, the Castillo family wall will sparkle a little brighter.

Among the items on display will be a framed gold medal, earned by son David Castillo in international basketball competition.

More valuable than the actual prize itself, however, will be the memories and experiences owned by 16-year-old Castillo, who is starting his sophomore year at Bartlesville High School.

Castillo capped a glorious summer of basketball by helping the USA Basketball U16 men’s team capture the championship of the FIBA Americas tournament, which was held in Mexico.

In the final game, Castillo came off the bench to bury 14 points — including 4-of-7 shooting from behind the three-point line — and help lift the USA to a 90-75 win against Argentina. The game had been tied, 47-47, but the USA went on a 43-28 run to end the game.

Castillo then got to climb the championship podium with his 11 teammates — representing pretty much all geographical sections of the U.S. — and receive their medals.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Bartlesville High head basketball coach Clent Stewart said about Castillo’s experience. “It’s a huge honor just to come and try out for the national team and to go their training camp and to be put on team USA. For him to be one of 12 kids in the United States to play on the team is an honor itself. Not many people in the world can say they won a gold medal. That’s something for sure I know he’s going to cherish. Hopefully he’ll get the opportunity again to play for our country.”

While not officially called summer school, Castillo gained a huge education from late May through August in the sport of basketball.

In addition to participating in two USA Basketball mini-camps and the FIBA Americas’ tourney, he also spent the month of June playing team camp games with Bartlesville High and part of July playing in the EBYL Peach Jam tourney in Georgia.

“Some of my memories are obviously winning the gold medal,” Castillo said about the past three-plus months. “Also being able to play in a big environment with the EBYL. Those are positive memories, along with my first (college) offer. That was a special moment.”

Castillo created plenty of special moments last winter for Bartlesville High Bruin basketball fans.

Though just a freshman, he posted one of the highest-ever season scoring averages (24 point-plus per game) in program history and also went off for more than 40 points against Ponca City.

But, scoring comprised just one dimension of his contribution. He also ran the offense as the point guard and set up several teammates to score.

Castillo — listed at 6-foot-2, 165 pounds on the USA Basketball roster — has cast a shadow that has caught the attention of college coaches throughout the nation.

Stewart offered at least partial list of the college interest Castillo has received.

Stewart said that according to his knowledge, the schools that have made scholarship offers are Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Illinois.

In addition, Arkansas, Tennessee and Gonzaga have shown interest, he added.

Colleges “are coming in and they want to see his talent,” Stewart continued. “David is such a great kid. He plays the game the right way. He shares the basketball and tries to do things the right way. He’s a fun kid to be around. He fits the mold of the type of player most teams want.”

Even though Castillo is blessed with God-given ability, the thing that sets him apart is his total dedication to developing his talents and understanding of the game, Stewart said.

“He’s grown up in the gym,” he continued. “He’s been in the gym every day since he was young. … It takes a lot of discipline. … discipline to do it over and over again to try to perfect his craft and to continue to develop and to continue to get better.”

Those were some of the traits, along with complete family support, that helped Castillo be chosen as one of the top 12 16-and-under players in the nation to represent the U.S.

“I’m just very proud it happened so quickly,” said father Nate Castillo, a long-time local youth basketball coach. “We were just hoping he would stay confident when playing varsity last season. Here we are finishing out the summer and just thinking of the blessing of attending the USA mini-camp, the second USA mini-camp and making the team. … We dream about our kids getting these type of opportunities.”

Despite the surreal experiences of the summer, David kept his feet on the ground and his mind out of the clouds, according to Nate.

Even when he didn’t garner a ton of playing time in most the first five games at the FIBA Americas tourney David kept his focus at razor-sharp readiness.

“He stayed ready,” Nate said. “He never was discouraged. From a father’s standpoint, I was very pleased and very proud of him because of that. Whether he was playing just four or five minutes, he stayed ready. He knew his moment would come and he would take advantage of it. He scored in every single game and personally I was very proud of that fact.”

When it really mattered — in a tight, clawing battle with the gold medal on the line — Castillo proved he could deliver.

“My favorite memory of the tournament is probably stepping up on the podium and seeing the flashes,” he said. “It was definitely surreal. They played the National Anthem right after and it was super special.”

Castillo also made a new group of friends with his USA teammates.

“They’re great people,” Castillo said, adding he plans to stay in touch with them.

Overall, Castillo said among the lessons he garnered this summer were “to be more communicative.”

About this coming high school season, he said he wants to help Bartlesville record a better record and that during his career he wants to help spearhead the Bruins’ return to the state tournament.

Stewart is happy to be a part of Castillo’s ongoing journey.

“It’s easy to do it for a month or two months, but when you’re doing it for years it’s hard to be consistent,” Stewart said. “He’s worked for everything. … Nothing has been handed over to him. It’s pretty amazing to see.”

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