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Originally published Tuesday, March 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Ferris' DeAngelo Casto becomes best in state

DeAngelo Casto began this season as "the world's tallest manager," Ferris coach Don Van Lierop liked to say, and the state's largest question...

Seattle Times staff reporter

DeAngelo Casto, Ferris

Height: 6-foot-8

Year: Senior

College: Undecided

By the numbers: 14.6 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, 4 blocks per game

Betcha didn't know: He's an avid writer, specializing in poetry and short stories

Favorite athlete: Michael Jordan

Last iPod download: "Barbie Girl" (he swears it was for a school skit)

Worst basketball moment: Being ineligible for varsity as a sophomore when he transferred from Freeman

Favorite book: Any of the Harry Potter books

Scores & stats

Schedule/results

Standings

Leaders

Teams

Rankings

More sports: Golf | Tennis | Swimming | Cross-country

DeAngelo Casto began this season as "the world's tallest manager," Ferris coach Don Van Lierop liked to say, and the state's largest question mark.

He finished it the same way he did a year earlier, as the thrilling force at the center of another historic undefeated season for the Saxons of Spokane. When Ferris left the Tacoma Dome with its second consecutive Class 4A championship and its 58th consecutive victory, Casto left with another highlight reel of dunks and blocks.

"He was the goalie," Van Lierop said. "He forced a lot of teams to shoot more jump shots, and he tends to play his best in the biggest games."

The past year for the 6-foot-8 center included two life-jarring moves from one side of the state to the other and the worry that he might not play high-school basketball again. But Casto, The Seattle Times player of the year, concluded it with a dominating postseason and won another championship.

"You can't really end it any better than that," he said. "Looking back at it now, with us taking home the championship, I'd say it was worth it."

But it didn't always feel that way, when his already chaotic life took two significant turns in a matter of five months. In June, his mother moved his family to Seattle, and Casto left Spokane without a word to Van Lierop. He eventually enrolled at Franklin, one of Seattle's basketball powers.

Changing schools and cities wasn't easy, though, and he missed the life he had at Ferris and in Spokane.

"Kids try to find their niche and where they belong at a school," Casto said. "At Ferris, I knew where I belonged."

So he left his family in Seattle in late October and moved back to Spokane, staying with Ferris assistant Dave Rath and his teammates. But as ready as he was to rejoin the Saxons, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association didn't grant his eligibility until six games into the season.

But something good came out of his short stay in Seattle. Casto said a summer spent working out with players from Seattle, especially those at Franklin, improved his footwork and helped him play at an even faster pace.

Casto slowly worked his way into the Ferris rotation, coming off the bench for his first three games.

"He was pretty humble," Van Lierop said. "He was glad to be back in every way. It just was a better fit for him."

But in the postseason, Casto became the top option on Ferris' extremely balanced team, which includes Shawn Stockton and Jared Karstetter, two members of the all-state second team.

Casto averaged 18.7 points in nine postseason games. He was named the most valuable player in the Eastern regional. In the Class 4A state tournament, he set a record with 25 blocks in four games, including a record-tying eight in the championship game.

"I play with more confidence in the playoffs," Casto said. "I know it's my turn to step up."

Casto said Washington State and Gonzaga have been in constant contact, and he said Washington spoke with him last week. He still needs a qualifying score on the SAT to play in Division I next season. He's confident he'll get it. "As hard as he's working, he's still, in my mind, pretty raw," Van Lierop said. "I think college coaches are drooling, just projecting what he's going to look like four, five years from now."

Tom Wyrwich: 206-515-5653 or twyrwich@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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