Newton High School’s Stephon Castle committed to play basketball at the University of Connecticut after he emerged as one of the nation’s top recruits. Some now project the 6-foot-6 do-it-all guard as a future Lottery Pick in the NBA Draft.
If a laboratory set out to create the perfect basketball player in terms of size, athleticism, IQ and intangibles, the finished product might look a lot like Stephon Castle: a 6-foot-6 do-it-all guard who lifted Newton High School to 43 wins over his final two seasons, with appearances in the Final Four and Elite Eight. The next chapter in the two-time Region 4-AAAAAAA Player of the Year’s career will be written more than 1,000 miles away from the comforts of home in Storrs, Connecticut.
Prior to his senior season at Newton, Castle had the foresight to commit to play at the University of Connecticut. The Huskies went on to claim their fifth national championship in April, as they cut through Iona, Saint Mary’s, Arkansas, Gonzaga, Miami and San Diego State in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, winning those six games by an average margin of 20 points. Against that backdrop, Castle serves as the centerpiece for perhaps the most acclaimed recruiting class in school history, which also includes Solo Ball, Jaylin Stewart, Jayden Ross and Youssouf Singare.
“Steph is one of the top-rated point guards in the class, and we expect him to be next in the line of great UConn guards,” Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley said. “He is blessed with unique positional size and strength, which gives him tremendous potential as a two-way player.”
Infused with their next wave of talent, the Huskies will head to Europe in August to practice and play against various teams in France and Spain during a nine-day tour. From there, Connecticut turns its attention to defending its national title when practices begin in October; and Castle figures to be right in the middle of those plans.
“He is blessed with unique positional size and strength, which gives him tremendous potential as a two-way player.”Dan Hurley
“I’m an unselfish guard who can create for myself, when necessary,” he said. “I think I have an all-around game right now. If I was asked five months ago what area needed most improvement, I would have said shooting, but I’ve really tightened everything up there the past few months.”
Castle admits he prefers to follow stern, no-nonsense leaders like Hurley, who has compiled a 104–55 record across his three seasons at Connecticut, including a stellar 31–8 mark in 2022–23.
“I really enjoy having tough coaches,” he said. “I believe they bring out the best in you, and I’ve seen that from Coach Hurley from Day 1.”
Castle made quite a footprint at Newton. He led the Rams to a 24–6 record, a region championship and a spot in the Final Four as a junior, averaging 16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Hype built quickly, both at the local and national levels, and soon, he was a household name in recruiting circles. Castle donned the red, white and blue at the FIBA U18 Americas Championships in Tijuana, Mexico, the following June, scoring seven points in a reserve role as the United States routed Brazil 102–60 in the gold medal game. “Playing with Team USA was a great experience for me,” he said. “Having to come off the bench and not be ‘The Guy’ helped me and the rest of my teammates understand the importance in believing in those around you.” Some two months later, the Covington City Council declared Aug. 15, 2022 as “Stephon Castle Day,” and he began to climb the charts as one of the nation’s top recruits.
As his senior season dawned and the anticipation reached a crescendo, Castle proceeded to answer all the hype with overwhelming substance. He put up 20.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.8 rebounds per game, as he spurred Newton to a 19–11 record and a run to the Elite Eight. Castle was named the Atlanta Metro High School Boys Player of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club and was selected to participate in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game—an honor bestowed to the top 24 high school players in the country— on March 28 in Houston. He scored 13 points and knocked down five of his six shot attempts, as the East beat the West 109–106 before a nationally televised audience on ESPN.
Castle pointed to his father, Stacey, and outgoing Newton coach Charlamagne Gibbons as the key figures in his rise to prominence. Stacey played college basketball at Wake Forest and Central Florida in the 1990s and offered his son invaluable insight into the entire process.
“My career at Newton was a grind,” Castle said. “I have to thank my coaches for believing in me and making me earn everything. My high school coach pushed me just as hard as my dad, so having two great outlets to talk to on how to improve my game really helped in a big way.”
Castle leaves behind a legacy at Newton rivaling that of any other play in the school’s rich history, from Tim Christian, Kantrail Horton and Mike Benton to JD Notae, Ashton Hagans and Isaiah Miller. In time, his exploits could exceed all those who came before him. Some talent evaluators already project Castle as a future Lottery Pick in the NBA Draft. The weight of such lofty expectations are not lost on the level-headed 18-year-old Covington native, who has long dreamed of playing in the NBA.
“That’s the ultimate goal for everyone who plays basketball,” Castle said. “Every day, from now on, that’s what I’m competing for.”