Stephon Castle NBA Draft stock 2024: UConn guard continues to rise after Final Four win over Alabama

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Alabama gave UConn its toughest test of the NCAA Tournament so far in Saturday’s Final Four, but the Huskies prevailed to advance to the national championship game.

Star freshman Stephon Castle’s team-high 21 points paced UConn’s balanced scoring attack, and the 2024 NBA Draft prospect boosted his stock in the process.

Entering March Madness, Castle was already a projected lottery pick. There is plenty to love about the draft profile of the 19-year-old, who measures in as a 6-6 big guard with a reported 6-9 wingspan.

His size, physicality, lateral quickness and IQ make him a versatile defender. He’s a confident ball-handler and patient playmaker who proved his scoring ability throughout the season.

Castle’s Final Four performance against the Crimson Tide only solidified the variety of ways that the UConn freshman can beat you — even if you try to exploit his biggest weakness.

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Stephon Castle 2024 NBA Draft stock

Almost everything about Castle’s prospect profile screams NBA. There is just one consistent knock on the UConn guard: his jump shot.

If Castle were even a semi-dangerous shooter — better than his 26.2% from 3-point range — he would be in the conversation to be a top-five pick.

Even knowing that Castle is rarely willing to shoot when teams sag off, he is starting to rise in 2024 mock drafts as a potential top-five talent in a weaker class because of his potential.

Alabama head coach Nate Oats tried to lean into Castle’s glaring weakness with his Final Four game plan. He started with forward Grant Nelson on Castle, but left the freshman guard alone on the perimeter to put another body on Donovan Clingan in the paint.

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Once Castle realized Alabama’s approach, he took it personally, and he knocked down his first two 3-point attempts.

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“It was kind of disrespect on their end to guard that far back. I took advantage of it early,” Castle said after the game.

Since that’s not typically Castle’s game, UConn head coach Dan Hurley got creative to keep his young star involved on offense. That is where Castle really wowed NBA talent evaluators, showing that there are so many ways he can make an impact even if he’s still developing a knockdown jumper.

Castle was used as a screener in pick-and-rolls. He stayed active as an off-ball cutter, creating easy looks at the rim by finding the soft spots in the defense. He also used his size to his advantage, taking smaller defenders into the paint any time he recognized a mismatch.

And on top of adjusting his offensive repertoire, Castle also provided his usual air-tight defense as a smothering on-ball defender, making life as tough as possible for Alabama’s playmakers.

Castle finished with an efficient and impactful 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field with a pair of 3s. He also had five rebounds, two assists and one steal.

The well-rounded effort added fuel to his NBA Draft ascension. Castle looks like a certified top-10 pick as UConn marches its way to Monday’s national championship game.

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