Milwaukee: Open-Door Policy For Director of European Scouting

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Mar 24 12:49:49 UTC 2007

Open-Door Policy Has Worked Both Ways For Bucks Director of European

March 23, 2007
by Truman Reed / special to

Back in his college days, Jacinto Castillo studied to be an electrical
engineer.  Today, based on his professional experiences, the devoted
husband, father of four and grandfather of four figures he could be a
successful European travel agent, or at least a knowledgeable one. Instead
of constructing circuits or booking tours, though, Castillo chose to
pursue his passion: basketball. Just recently, he passed through Brew Town
in the midst of his 10th season as the Milwaukee Bucks Director of
European Scouting.

A native of Malaga, an old Spanish town on the Mediterranean Sea, Castillo
played basketball at his hometown Marist College. He eventually became the
coach there and guided the program from Division-II to Top ACB status.
During those years, he established what has become a lifelong connection
to the basketball court. All of my career outside of my engineering stuff,
I've done basketball all my life, as a player, later a coach, later a GM
and an owner, Castillo said, so I've covered a host of things in the
basketball system.

One day about 14 years ago, the National Basketball Association came
knocking on Castillos door. He must have been an extremely hospitable
host, because he made quite an impression by simply following the Golden
Rule. And ironically enough, one of the individuals he welcomed into his
world was John Killilea, who had been a Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach
under Don Nelson from 1977 through 83. I was the GM of my team in Malaga,
Spain, Castillo recalled. John Killilea, who was with the Houston Rockets,
and Bob Ferry, who was the GM of the Washington Bullets at the time, came
to Spain to see Arvydas Sabonis play. At that time, I hosted them in my
gym to see the game. I treated them well, and they said, If you ever need
anything, call us.

Well, I called them back, trying to get into the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in
Chicago. They put me on the roster of a group of people from Houston, I
got entrance there, and from that time on, I developed a relationship with
them. I gave up being general manager of my team because I wanted to
pursue a scouting career. Castillo worked as a part-time scout for Houston
for four years, opening doors to gymnasiums all over Europe before another
basketball figure with Bucks ties led him to Milwaukee. My last year in
Houston, Bob Weinhauer was there as GM, Castillo said.  Then he moved to
Milwaukee and became an assistant coach there (on Chris Fords staff). I
finished my contract in Houston, and after Weinhauer took the GM position
in Milwaukee, he called and asked me, Are you going to join us? From that
time on, I've been here.

Since Castillo came aboard, the Bucks have both banner years and lean
years, and their general managers chair has had three different occupants.
But there has been one constant during the regimes of Weinhauer, Ernie
Grunfeld and Larry Harris: The Bucks have the European basketball
landscape covered with essentially a one-man network named Jacinto
Castillo. Right now, we have another person who is in Serbia, Castillo
said. His influence has been helpful, but I do most of the work on my own.
I do have connections everywhere people I can trust. In this business, I
never ask anyone his opinion. I normally go and see for myself. I wont
trust anyone who tells me a particular guy is a first-round pick, or
whatever. I always want to see the guy for myself.

If somebody tells me something, Ill put a player on my list, search for
him and check him out, and then if I think he's worthy, I go and see him
and form my own opinion. Sometimes people are looking only for small
interest and pushing somebody, and the name isn't worth anything. Castillo
has been spanning Europe for the NBA for 14 years now, yet he still
encounters some of the same barriers he did in year one. I scout all of
Europe, including Russia, he said. I was in Africa for their junior
championships a couple of times. This winter, I scouted the African

I've been all over. And I've driven to many of these places, which can be
difficult. Sometimes the American people believe Europe is like the
states, but its very different. Theres a different feeling, different
languages, difference currency everythings different, and its not easy.
The language barrier is something Castillo had to clear many times during
his travels from country to country. He says he speaks nice Spanish, good
Italian, a little French and terrible English. Somehow, though, Castillo
has always found a will and a way. In Russia, its very hard to
communicate, he said. You feel lost because you can understand nothing.
The road signs are in Cyrillic. You have no idea where you are. Most of
the people there are not really friendly, and they don't know any English.
They don't speak much at all. Its awfully difficult to communicate. Its
kind of sad.

Castillo, though, usually manages to get by without an interpreter. His
English may not be smooth, but it has proven to be much more than
adequate. You know, English is a world language, he said. In Europe, we
can understand each other in the different countries because everybody
whos from those countries speaks bad English.


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