In the fall of 2008, two skinny, but extremely talented men arrived on campus at Washington State looking to build on the success of the greatest recruiting class in WSU’s basketball history. Outgoing seniors Kyle Weaver, Derrick Low and Robbie Cowgill had just completed a season that ended in the Sweet 16 when the new kids, Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto looked to lay the foundation for successful careers and establishing themselves as the next great class. With their careers at WSU now apparently over (barring a stunning turn events that leads to Thompson returning) I wanted to look back on their impacts. I don’t wish to question their decisions to turn pro or try to figure out what might have been had their potential been reached. Mostly I want to thank DeAngelo Casto and Klay Thompson for their contributions.
As Freshmen, you could see glimpses of what Casto and Thompson could do. They clearly weren’t strong enough yet and neither was quite up the pace of the college game, but you could see the talent. Klay’s sweet stroke was always there, as was Casto’s athleticism, specifically as a shot blocker. Combining with seniors Aron Baynes, Caleb Forrest, Daven Harmeling and Taylor Rochestie, Thompson and Casto made their first postseason appearance, bowing out in the first round of the NIT.
Year two of the Thompson-Casto era was a disappointing one. It started with promise, particularly with e a victory in the Great Alaskan Shootout. The Cougs won the final of that tourney by 37 points on the strength of my single favorite Klay Thompson performance. While he may have had more important great performances later in his career, the 43 point outburst in Anchorage was the signature breakout moment. It became abundantly clear the caliber of talent the Cougs had in Thompson. Unfortunately the magic couldn’t carry over and a last place conference finish was all that could be mustered.
To most who followed the team closely, the 2010-2011 season figured to be a great chance for Thompson and Casto to make their first Big Dance appearance. There is no need to rehash details at this point, but we all know how the season and now the careers of Thompson and Casto concluded. Two athletes of completely difference backgrounds shared the spotlight at Friel Court for the same stretch. While they may not have left the Cougar faithful with the sort of memories we though we’d have, Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto will continue their legacies in my memory bank in a very positive way.
I wish the two of them the best in their prospective pro careers. If I catch them in a game sometime down the road, I’m not going to think back to the arrests or the disappointing losses. I’ll think back to Klay pulling up and hitting bombs from parts unknown in Beasley Coliseum and I’ll think of Casto throwing down a monster dunk, then turning to the ZZU Cru to ignite them like not too many have in a WSU jersey. Thanks for the memories, DeAngelo and Klay. Good luck to you both.