San Antonio – Rattler fans know all about D.J. Castro’s ability to provide a spark on the basketball court, what with his cat-like quickness and relentless energy.

What they might not have realized – not until Rattler Madness back in November, at least – was just how athletic the junior guard from El Paso, Texas really is.

Launching the season-opening show into high gear, Castro burst onto the court and did a standing back flip, much to the delight of the 1,000 students in attendance.

“I’m self taught,” he said of doing the back flip. “I was bored in my backyard one day when I was 15 or 16. I was doing cartwheels just messing around, and I figured if I jumped high enough I could do a back flip.

“I tried it, and I landed it.”

The spectacle opened plenty of eyes and drew countless cheers – much like Castro’s play on the court.

One of the Rattlers’ go-to players from the bench, Castro has shined in every role the Rattlers have asked of him. Whether it’s when his pin-point accuracy from 3-point range as an off-guard is required, or when his eye for the passing lanes as the point guard is needed, Castro is up for the job.

Averaging 4.8 points per game, Castro has made 11 3-pointers this season, third on the team to only Daryell Taylor and Moses Sundufu. His 27 assists lead all bench players, as does his 14.9 minutes per game.

“I just try to hustle and make the little plays that normally don’t make it into the box score but do change the course of the games,” said Castro, who was a point guard in high school. “I’m constantly trying to make plays happen.”

With the Rattlers (13-7, 6-3 in Heartland Conference) squarely in competition to win the Heartland’s regular-season title, Castro is excited about what the coming weeks have to offer. St. Mary’s trails league-leading Texas A&M International and Newman by just a single game, setting up quite the stage this evening with the Rattlers taking on the Jets as St. Mary’s hopes to edge closer toward punching its ticket to the Heartland Tournament.

“Oh, it’s big, man,” Castro said of facing Newman again after falling to the Jets on the road. “Every game is big. But this one, we want to get back that loss when they got us there.”

Castro knows what to do when on stage. Just don’t expect any back flips.

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