Courtney Castro got a taste of what it’s like to play for the New Jersey Nets at the IZOD Center, even if it was just for the big screen.
The Brooklyn native was one of 10 players selected out of 300 who tried out for a role in the upcoming movie “Just Wright,” about a physical therapist (Queens Latifah) who falls for the basketball player (rapper Common) she is helping recover from a career-threatening injury.
Castro, who was told of the opportunity by contacts he made during his semi-pro career, got to shoot the basketball scenes as a member of the home team with NBA stars like Dwight Howard, Richard Jefferson and Bobby Simmons last week. Howard, known as a jokester, would lighten the mood with his impersonation of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Castro was the one smiling the widest at the end.
During the shoot he was observed by Nets coach Lawrence Frank, his assistants and a few front office members. They took a liking to the super athletic 5-foot-11 guard. So much so, that the Nets invited Castro to work out with them and to training camp, he said.
“It’s been my dream for awhile,” the 27-year-old said. “I’ve been through every league%u2026It’s a great opportunity. It is God’s blessing.”
He has bounced around plenty during his career, which included leading the alternative school Pacific to the PSAL championship game as a senior. Castro spent his college career at Navarro Junior College in Texas and then went to Division II Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina.
Since then, he has played in Quebec, Taiwan and with the Harlem Globetrotter-esque Harlem Wizards. Castro, who said he made the final cut for several NBA Development League squads, was planning on taking his game to Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic before the opportunity with the Nets came along.
“I put [overseas] on hold after this,” he said.
Castro, who plays in multiple streetball leagues in the city, is lightening quick and a pure scorer. His streetball nickname is “The Jumpman” because of the highlight reel dunks he can turn out with a 45-inch vertical leap. Castro can also step out and hit 3-pointers as well. He averaged 33.5 points per game while playing with the WillieHowie All-Stars at Hoops in the Sun. He knows the Nets will be looking for all that and more as he spends the next few weeks training for the opportunity he has long waited for.
“All they care about is you running up and down and not stopping,” Castro said. “If you don’t get the ball, play defense. If the ball goes out of bounds, they want to see you dive and just work hard and do all the little things that no one else wants to do.”
Castro wouldn’t be there if he hasn’t done them already.