Locke returns ‘home’ to Oak Park-River Forest
La Grange, IL - Friday, March 2, 2012: Oak Park's Alex Gustafson (33) tries to get a shot off vs Morton's Rodrigo Nava (25) and David Chatman (23) during the regional title game at Lyons Township. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 30, 2012 3:14PM
OAK PARK — 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 when 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, then spent the rest of that season on the sophomore team.
He left OPRF for his sophomore season to join his father, Bobby, who was coaching his second season at Brooks. The elder Locke led Brooks to the city championship and third place in Class 3A in 2011 after leaving 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 continued to work at Evanston and, as a part-time employee, did not need to establish residency in the city.
When Erick saw his former teammates around Oak Park during the summer, he revisited 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 to the Shamrocks in the final, 55-52, the Huskies won the tiebreaker. Locke was named the tournament MVP after leading OPRF in scoring in three of the four games, including a season-high 23 points against St. Patrick.
The defending West Suburban Silver champs are senior-laden. Locke and guard Jason Gant are the only juniors among Maloney’s top 10, and 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 played at Brooks Jr. High with many of his current OPRF teammates. He said he matured during his season away from OPRF, and Maloney said he 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
OPRF will host a Coaches vs. Cancer fund-raiser during its game Friday with Fenwick. Potbelly’s restaurant will be selling Huskies shakes (chocolate, Oreo, peanut butter) and donate proceeds to the American Cancer Society.