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    Sunday, May 19, 2024

    Castle the latest UConn basketball player to declare for the NBA Draft

    UConn guard Stephon Castle (5) reacts after scoring during the first half of a second-round college basketball game against Northwestern in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
    UConn's Stephon Castle (5) plays against Creighton during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Omaha, Neb. Creighton defeated UConn 85-66. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

    Stephon Castle declared for the NBA Draft on Friday, becoming just the second freshman in UConn program history to forgo his remaining eligibility to pursue a professional career.

    Castle made his announcement on his Instagram account.

    “With extreme gratitude and motivation, I’d like to announce that I’m pursuing my lifelong dream of playing in the NBA and declaring for the 2024 NBA Draft,” Castle wrote.

    Andre Drummond took the same one-and-done route in 2012 and went ninth overall to Detroit.

    Castle is the third UConn starter since April 12 to put his name in the draft, which will be held June 26-27 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Sophomore center Donovan Clingan declared his intentions on April 12 and then redshirt sophomore Alex Karaban posted his plans on social media on Thursday.

    Castle and Clingan are potential NBA lottery picks.

    Karaban, projected to be a second round pick, is retaining his eligibility while going through the pre-draft process before making his decision about his future.

    A versatile 6-foot-6 guard, Castle arrived in Storrs as a consensus five star national recruit and McDonald’s All-American.

    Castle lived up to his billing, turning in one of the most impactful freshman seasons in program history. He contributed on both ends of the court while averaging 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 34 games for the 37-3 Huskies. He also was the team’s best perimeter defender, known for shutting down an opponent’s top scorer.

    Shooting is the primary area of concern about Castle, who converted 47.2% from the field but only 26.7% from 3-point range.

    Castle was named the Big East freshman of the year after setting a league record with 11 weekly honors.

    His stellar play in the NCAA tournament earned him a spot on the Final Four all-tournament team. He scored a career-high tying 21 points in a national semifinal win over Alabama on the way to helping the Huskies win their second straight title.

    “No Freshman impacted WINNING like this Champion,” coach Dan Hurley posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “His combination of talent, work ethic and humility… And GREAT parents!!”

    In his announcement, Castle started out by thanking God “for this gift and opportunity.” He also expressed his appreciation for Husky Nation.

    Castle then wrote about the UConn coaching staff and his teammates.

    “I appreciate all of you more than you know. You pushed me every single day on and off the court to be the best basketball player, student and person I could be. To my teammates, We are Brothers 4 Life! No more needs to be said.”

    Castle also thanked his family, including parents Stacey and Quannette, for their support.

    “Thank you for cheering me on every step of the way. I know I can accomplish anything with all of you by my side.”

    With UConn potentially losing all five starters, the coaching staff is busy this spring restocking the roster. Michigan transfer Tarris Reed, Jr., a 6-foot-10 center, committed to the Huskies on Wednesday.

    g.keefe@theday.com

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