I Want More
Veteran Journalist and Author Kevin Callahan shares how a scholarship allowed T-John Casiello to continue his basketball dreams in Ireland and how he wants the opportunity to keep playing.
By Kevin Callahan
One of the fortunate few, T-John Casiello extended his basketball career by playing overseas last winter.
Now, he understandably, wants more.
“You get a little taste of that kind of experience you want to do it again,” said Casiello, who won a Victory Scholarship to play in Ireland after playing his senior year at the University of Sciences in Philadelphia.
The seasoned point guard was one of 23 winners of the selective scholarship, which is a partnership between the Rory McIlroy Foundation and Sport Changes Life. The Victory Scholars attended nine universities in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“When I finished up at Sciences, if I don’t get the Victory Scholarship, I would’ve just had to get a job right away,” Casiello said last week from his home in Wildwood, New Jersey.
“So I thought that would be my last year playing, but I liked it so much I want to go back to again.”
However, he hasn’t found an agent to represent him and all other leads have stalled
“That has been a huge problem for me, there’s really no other way around it unless you know a coach,” Casiello said. “Ultimately, it’s best to have someone represent you and working for you, but they aren’t going to represent a guy who they aren’t going to make that much money off of, I mean you can’t blame them, it takes time and energy.
“I was talking to a couple of other guys in the same situation.”
On the Victory Scholarship, Casiello attended and played for Letterkenny Institute of Technology in County Donegal. While playing and studying for his master’s degree, as part of the scholarship, he also coached youth basketball in North-West Ireland.
The 5-foot-10 Casiello is also paying his Ireland experience forward as knows a player from college who would like the opportunity to play overseas, but hasn’t been able to find a team.
“I am helping him or else he won’t have anything,” Casiello said.
Even if his own overseas playing career is over, Casiello wouldn’t trade in the experience in Letterkenny, a 20-minute drive from the historic city of Derry, for a year of work-related experience in the United States.
“I went to college only an hour and a half away from home in Wildwood, so I was able to get away and travel a little bit,” Casiello said. “I was able to get out of a comfortable environment.”
On the Emerald Isle, Casiello led his team to Ireland’s Division 2 college championship. He won the Most Valuable Player award.
Although he said the league wasn’t “super competitive” and they only had two practices a week, he really liked the basketball and “would certainly recommend it.”
Casiello, who scored over 1,000 points in high school at Wildwood Catholic, was a playmaker and three-year starter for coach Dave Pauley the University of Sciences on the Division II level in the competitive Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.
As a junior, Casiello was the nation’s leader with a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio as Sciences posted a 25-6 mark – the best record in school history.
He was a five-time Dean’s List member, carrying above a 3.2 GPA throughout his playing career of 114 games. He was named to the National Basketball Coaches Association Honors Court, the D2ADA Academic Achievement list and the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) All-Academic Team.
Casiello, who is the nephew of Tom Feraco, who retired last year after three decades as the coach of Middle Township boys’ basketball, credited Pauley for nudging him to apply for the scholarship.
Pauley visited Casiello in Ireland and saw his former player win the All-Ireland final and MVP for the game. Pauley also ran a clinic for both coaches and players from all over North-West Ireland.
“Last year his college didn’t win a game and this year they win the championship and he is the MVP,” Pauley said about Letterkenny. “I mean how great is that? How special is that moment?”
Of course, Casiello wants the chance to make more special moments and opportunities abroad.
For any leads or opportunities to play overseas this season, T-John Casiello can be reached by email at: Scasiello@mail.usciences.edu