- Adam Finkelstein
Rene Castro (Milton, Mass./Worcester Academy) is making waves in the New England prep school ranks.
The junior guard has led Worcester Academy to wins in seven of their last eight games and has rattled off five straight 30-plus point games.
Castro’s streak began two weeks ago at the National Prep School Invitational where he went for 34 points, including 23 in the second half in a win over the Phelps School and another 42 points in a hard-fought loss to New Hop Academy on Super Bowl Sunday.
It was more of the same throughout last week as he dropped 30 points in a 64-53 win over Phillips Exeter and then 32 points in a 64-61 win over Wilbraham and Monson.
The streak stayed alive Wednesday, as he poured in 38 points in a road win over Tabor Academy on Wednesday.
“He’s been working really hard to get to this point,” Worcester Academy head coach Jamie Sullivan said. “He’s in the gym every morning before school and has really worked on his skill level in terms of being able to use his left hand around the basket and being able to read screens.”
Castro’s body has also taken a noticeable jump. While he’s always had good speed with the ball in his hands, he’s evolved into a very powerful guard and one who is now showing increased explosion, able to rise up for midrange pull-ups and make plays on the defensive end of the floor.
Put it all together and Castro’s total game isn’t conventional by any means, but extraordinarily effective.
“It’s a little unorthodox, but he’s just so crafty,” Sullivan said. “He’s asserting himself now and people can’t stay in front of him, he’s too powerful. He’s been shooting the ball very well and he’s guarding people too, so he’s getting steals and easy points in the open floor.”
Castro’s recent run has also come in correlation to increased focus. That’s not to say he wasn’t focused before, just the opposite, but it’s the lengths he’s going to now – like deleting his Twitter and Facebook accounts – that are obviously paying off.
“He doesn’t want to be distracted. He wants to focus on his academics and athletics,” Sullivan said.
On the recruiting front, Castro attracted plenty of high-major attention early in his career while thriving on the AAU circuit with BABC. Earlier this year he emerged as an obvious priority for a few Atlantic 10 programs like Rhode Island and George Washington, but his recent production has the high-majors once again coming around in high volume. Texas, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Providence and Gonzaga have all called within the last week.
“He’s just bought into everything a coach would want,” Sullivan said. “Your best player has to be your hardest worker and he’s really taken the bull by the horns in that regard.”
With 176 points in his last five games, Castro’s hard work and focus certainly appears to be paying off.