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Erick Locke has found a new home with his former basketball team at Oak Park-River Forest.
The junior guard was a welcomed addition to the Huskies once he re-enrolled before the school year. OPRF coach Matt Maloney did not know Locke would re-join the team until mid-August when he was approached by Locke and his father, Bobby.
“He has been a huge spark,” Maloney said. “He does things offensively that makes it tough for defenses to guard. He gives us the versatility to play small or large.”
The 6-foot-1 Erick played in two varsity games for OPRF as a freshman, but played the rest of that season on the sophomore team.
He left OPRF for his sophomore season to join his father, Bobby, who entered his second season as the coach at Brooks. The elder Locke led Brooks to the city championship and third place in Class 3A in 2011 after coaching at Evanston.
However, Bobby Locke was fired at Brooks in June after an investigation determined that Erick had not established residency in the city. According to a Sun-Times report, Bobby continues to work at Evanston and did not need to establish residency in the city as a part-time employee.
When Erick saw his former teammates around Oak Park during the summer, he narrowed his options.
“Oak Park was not on my radar at first,” Erick Locke said. “I brought it up (with my dad). The guys were telling me they would love to have me back. We should be a pretty good team this year.”
Locke helped the Huskies (3-1) earn their third consecutive Kurland Thanksgiving tournament title Saturday at St. Patrick, despite losing the final to the Shamrocks, 55-52, to win by a tiebreaker. Locke was named the tournament MVP after leading OPRF in scoring in three of his first four games. He scored a season-high 23 points against St. Patrick.
OPRF plays at Walther Lutheran (2-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday and hosts Fenwick (3-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The defending West Suburban Silver Huskies are senior-laden. Locke and guard Jason Gant are the only juniors playing among Maloney’s top 10, but many of the seniors have not forgotten Locke’s contributions to the program two years ago.
“We needed that extra scorer,” senior guard Alex Gustafson said. “We have so many weapons now that you can add (Locke) to the mix.”
Locke also played at Brooks Junior High with many of his current OPRF teammates.
Locke said he has matured after his single season away from OPRF. Maloney said he has noticed that Locke has become more physical as well.“I think I have made a huge jump,” Locke said. “Every year, I’ll do anything to get better. I have a chip on my shoulder. I work hard.”
COACHES VS. CANCER
Coaches vs Cancer is making a difference. OPRFHS generously gave American Cancer Society the December 1st basketball game against Fenwick to allow me to give back to a community that has given so much to me.
Potbelly’s has joined in and will donate proceeds of a Huskies shake (chocolate, Oreo, peanut butter) to American Cancer Society.