Michigan put the finishing touches on an excellent 2018 recruiting class this morning when four-star Daytona Beach (FL) Father Lopez big man Colin Castleton announced his commitment:
Castleton chose the Wolverines over Illinois after taking an official visit to Ann Arbor last weekend. While Michigan made a relatively late push for Castleton, the efforts of John Beilein and new assistant coach Luke Yaklich—who'd recruited Castleton at Illinois State—made a major impression, per Sam Webb. Beilein's no-nonsense approach ultimately won Castleton over:
“It’s kind of like DeLand times 15 or 20,” said Castleton, who averaged 23.3 points, 11 rebounds and 5.4 blocks per game as a junior. “I liked the feel, the culture and the coaching staff. Coach Beilein doesn’t lie; he’s straightforward. He didn’t promise me any playing time or anything like that, but the players are all great.”
Castleton is the fifth commit in the class, which now boasts four composite four-stars and ranks second(!) in the team rankings.
4*, #20 PF,
3*, 89, #35 PF,
4*, #30 PF,
While there's a difference in star rating, Rivals and 247 both have Castleton a little ways outside their top 100, while Scout is more optimistic, placing him at #70 overall. ESPN continues to be useless; Castleton, a composite four-star with several high-major offers, isn't in their database, and they still list Taylor Currie as a 2018 commit. They did just get around to putting up a page for Adrien Nunez, so hopefully they'll add Castleton soon.
Castleton is listed at 6'10", 215 pounds by Scout and 247 and 6'11", 220 by Rivals. Much like Moe Wagner, he projects as an NBA power forward who'll play center in college:
Colin Castleton is 6-11, 215 pounds. I asked him what position he'll play at Michigan ... pic.twitter.com/OgzqrjXdss
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) October 4, 2017
Castleton certainly has the requisite length, and as you'll see he could develop into an impact defender.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
Castleton was a relatively latecomer to the game of basketball. He focused on baseball until blowing out his arm in seventh grade and didn't make the varsity basketball team as a freshman despite his height. Then he grew four more inches before his sophomore year, starred on his high school team, and hit the AAU circuit, drawing considerable interest from mid-major squads and the likes of Rutgers.
Given that background, it's not surprising that Castleton blew up this summer. Scout listed him among their breakout performers from the July evaluation period:
In a class short on legit bigs, Colin Castleton is really emerging. He was tremendous at the HoopSeen Best of the South. At a legit 6-foot-10, Castleton has skill to the three point line, while also not being afraid to compete down low. He needs strength, but is already making strides in that area and is improving quickly.
They'd jump Castleton into the top 100 in their next update, where he's held steady since.
Rivals had a similar takeaway about Castletons offensive skill from the Best of the South event while also noting he's got serious length:
Castleton is one of the more intriguing post players in the southeast in the 2019 class. At 6-foot-11 with arms that appear to stretch down to his knees, Castleton is a pretty smooth athlete with a high skill level. He can knock down jumpers out to three-point range, but some of his more impressive moments were plays he made posting up on the block or a couple steps off. Like most young post players, he needs to add some strength, but his long term potential is very high. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Illinois, South Florida, Xavier and more are involved here. He’s another prospect who deserves to be ranked in the 2018 Rivals150.
Sure enough, they moved him inside the Rivals150. One of their scouts named him the toughest prospect to evaluate in the class, in a good way:
RUSS WOOD: Colin Castleton. Ranking young bigs is a challenge for me. I really like Castleton's upside, and as a result I'm higher on him than his current rank.
Other Rivals takeaways noted that Castleton isn't a "super explosive" athlete, but he runs the floor very well, and he has the frame to "easily carry another 30 pounds" without losing his athleticism. That's encouraging, since he's definitely going to need that bulk.
Endless Motor has Castleton around where Rivals and 247 do, with the caveat that limited in-person evaluation kept them from potentially ranking him higher:
Colin Castleton (#138) – ranked him conservatively based on limited live evaluation. Gut tells me he’s more likely in the 90-100 range. elite rim protector/shotblocker that is a good rebounder as well. Offensively he has good touch around the basket and a nice shot from the midrange area. Shows some flashes of back to the basket game with jumphooks over both shoulders but more of face-up post player at this point. Good passer from the high-post area. Not an explosive athlete but is fluid with good size and length. Projects as a rim-protecting center that will score on dumpoffs, putbacks, rolls and midrange jumpshots. Low floor, high ceiling prospect that will likely need a year to add muscle mass and improve reaction time before being a heavy contributor.
About that shot-blocking ability—Castleton was the second-best shot-blocker in the EYBL this year, so calling him "elite" in that regard isn't hyperbole:
EYBL's Block% Leaders (Through Peach Jam)
DM us for Full Stat Report pic.twitter.com/tYn4g6Jwhz
— Open Look Analytics (@OLAnalytics) August 10, 2017
If he maintains this trajectory, he should be Michigan's best rim protector since Ekpe Udoh. Dylan went into more detail in UMHoops's in-depth evaluation:
On film, Castleton appears to be one of the best rim protectors that Michigan has recruited under John Beilein. He has great length, timing and is very mobile for his size. His shot blocking stands out on film because he can block shots in a number of different ways. He’s a very effective rim protector when he provides help, but he’s also capable of helping to the ball and then recovering to his man. He blocks shots in transition and he also does a solid job in one-on-one or post-up situations.
Dylan also notes that Castleton looks comfortable as both a roll man and pick-and-pop shooter with his EYBL team, which will be critical in Beilein's offense. While he doesn't have the all-around offensive skill of Moe Wagner, Castleton is a much better defender and should be a superior rebounder as well. With three-point range and developing offensive skill also in that package, Castleton would be a great pickup for anyone, and he's an especially good fit as a Wagner replacement.
Castleton initially looked ticketed for Florida, which he called his dream school, but while he held an offer and visited, it looks like he wasn't a take. He holds offers from Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, Xavier, among several others.
Castleton averaged 23.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 5.4 blocks per game as a junior for Father Lopez. In 15 EYBL games for Nike South Beach, he averaged 6.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game while going 37/68 (54.4%) on twos, 0/8 on threes, and 13/21 (61.9%) from the line.
UMHoops compiled highlights from this summer:
Sophomore highlights can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Castleton is eventually going to be the starting five on this team is his scouting reports are accurate; Michigan has been in need of a skilled shot-blocking center seemingly forever. How quickly he gets there will depend on a few factors. First, he'll redshirt if Moe Wagner stays for his senior year, though it sure seems like Michigan expects him to depart following this season. Second, the development of Jon Teske and Austin Davis will impact how quickly Michigan needs him to be a part of the rotation. Third, he needs to hit the weights.
Ultimately, I see Castleton needing a year or two of physical development before emerging as the center who best fits Beilein's system while also providing rim protection we haven't seen around here in a while.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It is done. It is also very good.