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Louisiana High School basketball forward Tristan Castiglia will bring more game when he suits up for his senior season later this year.
Castiglia has been playing for the Missouri Mavericks Black Elite traveling team this summer and has shown marked improvement, according to Coach Mark McLaughlin.
The team recently won the Missouri state championship in the Mid-America Youth Basketball league.
“It was difficult in the beginning playing with new guys from across the state, but now I feel comfortable,” Castiglia said last week.
“My defensive game has improved quite a bit. Playing against better players, you have to step up to that level.”
Castiglia will now play in the league’s national tournament in Wichita, Kan. from Wednesday, July 31 to Saturday, Aug. 3. The tourney features 1,000 youth basketball teams from all over the nation.
The Mavericks have several teams and picked the best players from them to play in the national tournament, McLaughlin said.
After hearing about Castiglia and following his progress on the internet the past two years, McLaughlin decided to invite him to be a Maverick.
“He’s strong, athletic and tough,” said McLaughlin, who leads the overall Maverick program and is head coach at Lakeland High School near Kansas City. “I like athletes who can run and jump bigger than their size and Tristan does that.
“He’s an absolute sponge when we’re coaching him and one of the two or three most athletic kids in our program. He’s got passion but also compassion. He’s a good teammate.”
When Castiglia got the invitation from McLaughlin to join the Mavericks, he didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I told him ‘yes sir.’ It was a dream come true,” he said.
McLaughlin said Castiglia has been well-coached in Louisiana by head coach Derrick Branstetter. He expects the Bulldogs will benefit from Castiglia’s Mavericks experience.
“We’re still working with him on his shot but he’s going to be more assertive,” McLaughlin said. “He’s set to have a blowout senior year,”
Castiglia averaged 13.4 per points per game over 27 contests in his junior year of 2012-13. He also averaged 7.1 rebounds and 3.2 blocked shots per game.
Many Mavericks have or are now playing for small colleges and McLaughlin wouldn’t be surprised to see Castiglia do the same.
“NAIA schools would be well-advised to take a good look at Tristan,” he said. “I think he can play there. He’s a fine young man.”