“Kyle brings leadership, toughness and good instincts on the floor,” Hillgrove coach Ed Morris said. “He’s become a much more consistent shooter this season, and he’s a pretty good ball-handler and defender. He can penetrate and dish off, and he’s a good finisher. His ability to shoot the ball better has opened up other areas of his game.
“He’s a difference-maker. We’d be a solid team without him, no doubt, but taking him out of our lineup changes the dynamics of our team.”
While he receives a lot of attention on the hardwood, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound junior shooting guard is so much more than a solid basketball player. Hillgrove’s leading scorer, Castlin does a lot off the court, too, volunteering his time to various events away from basketball, including several clubs at the school.
“He’s a leader on our team and in our school,” Morris said. “That’s what sets him apart from most guys.”
Castlin’s extracurricular activities are numerous.
He’s a member of the yearbook staff as well as a junior representative of the student government association. He’s also part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the National Honor Society and the Christian Service Club, and he attends Bible study on Wednesday evenings.
“I grew up in the church and I want to do work for the lord,” Castlin said. “My parents, Kelley and Pedro, instilled in me the will to help people. I like to interact with people, especially kids, and being a part of these groups gives me an opportunity to do that.”
Castlin is, of course, most busy during basketball season. His FCA group meets on Fridays, while the Christian Service Club comes together on the first Tuesday of each month.
He manages to balance his time well given all of the distractions.
“I have a busy schedule, but I like it because it keeps me focused,” Castlin said. “I don’t have a lot of time to do something that isn’t constructive.”
In his third varsity season, and second as a starter, one of Castlin’s most enjoyable projects is the “Shop with the Hawk” event, which matches players up with needy children during the holidays.
“Parents sign the kids up because they know they can’t give them the Christmas that they want,” he said. “We take the kids shopping and buy them gifts to give them a nice Christmas. We also mentor and talk to them and listen to whatever problems they might have.”
“I really enjoy community service work. I feel good that I can help people. Plus, I really get to see how blessed I am with the things that I have. I have a lot of kids that don’t have the kind of things that I have.”
Castlin also gets an added bonus from his community service work with the support from fans in attendance at Hillgrove basketball games.
“I can hear the kids supporting me in the stands,” Castlin said. “They look up to me, and I appreciate that.”
With his team on the cusp of winning its first state championship — the Hawks face Norcross in Saturday night’s Class AAAAAA title game in Macon — Castlin is looking forward to having a new story to tell during his next community service project.
“This has been a great experience,” he said. “We’ve worked hard all year to get here. To have this opportunity to be the first team at Hillgrove to win a state championship would really show that the hard work paid off.”