COVINGTON, Ga. — Stephon Castle had a busy week in Newton County. The Newton County Board of Commissioners, Covington City Council and Newton County School Board honored Castle’s contributions to Team USA Basketball’s U18 gold medal finish over the summer.
Covington City Council honored Castle on Monday and declared Aug. 15, 2022, as “Stephon Castle Day.” For the Newton Rams boys basketball star, though, it was more of an acknowledgement of the work he’s put into the game he loves playing.
“It could’ve been a lot of other big people who could’ve been chosen to make that team,” Castle said. “I think it was my hard work that got me chosen to be on the team. I just try to stay humble and stay true to the work.”
Castle is the son of Stacey and Quannette Castle. He has an older brother named Quenton and a little sister, Staci. Seeing her son celebrated brought joy to Quannette’s heart.
“We love this community and we are so humbled and proud of Steph,” Quannatte told The Covington News. “He will give back to the community… can’t forget where it all started.
“I really want people to know it’s not only about basketball. He loves his family and he’s a smart student.”
Castle credited his family and hometown’s support as a main proponent to his success on the court this summer. He could hardly put the impact of their support into words.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Castle said. “I know a lot of people who have come from this county and the support that we have is different. Just knowing that I have people on my side and who have my back helps me want to be good.”
Team USA defeated Team Argentina, Team Mexico and Team Brazil on its way to the gold medal finish. In those three contests, Castle averaged 5.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. In the championship game, the Covington native and UConn basketball commitment recorded seven points, and three rebounds in 16 minutes of action.
Castle’s contributions helped Team USA to a 102-60 win over Brazil in the FIBA U18 Americas Championships in Tijuana, Mexico. It was a win that secured a gold medal for the team.
Castle’s gold medal is on display in his parents’ room. Even looking at it more than two months later still doesn’t make it feel real to him, though.
“I go look at it every once in a while because it’s still surreal to me being 17 with a gold medal,” Castle said. “There’s a lot of NBA players who don’t have one. I never really thought I would ever win a gold medal until the opportunity was presented to me to try out for that team. That’s when I put my mind to it.”
Castle received an official invite to compete for a spot on this year’s team in early May. The camp took place in late May in Houston, Texas. When it was over, Castle claimed one of the 12 available spots out of a 27-player field.
The 6-foot-6, 4-star prospect starred for the Rams last season averaging 16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists while helping the Rams to be region runners-up and a final four appearance. He also earned Region 4-AAAAAAA Player of the Year honors and was named the All-Covington News’ Most Valuable Player.
But while participating in tryouts and donning the gold medal on a national team, Castle said he took away one big lesson from his experience.
“[I learned] how to play a role,” Castle said. “You won’t always be ‘the guy’ on your team. When I went out there, I wasn’t ‘the guy,’ but I still had to perform. They didn’t just put me on the team just to put me on it. I still had to perform and play my role.”
Castle may have not been “the guy” for Team USA U18’s team this summer, but he has been just that across Newton County this past week. And he says he appreciates all that his hometown has done to help celebrate a momentous occasion in his life.
“It’s definitely been humbling,” Castle said. “I know not a lot of people get to experience what I’ve experienced this week. I’m grateful for it.”