It was sometime during Noah Locke’s junior season that Chris Holtmann’s staff at Butler made the trip to Maryland to see him play. And after doing so, they had resigned themselves to a conclusion.
“They saw us during the season and I guess they figured that this kid’s probably going to get more higher offers and they probably wouldn’t be able to get involved,” said TJ Jordan, Locke’s coach at Owings Mills McDonogh School.
That changed in June when Holtmann became coach at Ohio State and began hitting the recruiting trail on behalf of the Buckeyes. Now Locke is on an official visit to Ohio State, the first of five he has scheduled. It will end Thursday.
The Buckeyes landed the final official visit Locke scheduled, edging out Kansas and Virginia for the slot after offering him a scholarship in late July.
Up next are Providence (Aug. 31), Xavier (Sept. 9), Michigan (Sept. 16) and Florida (Sept. 30). Those five schools figure to be the favorites to land the 6-foot-2, 160-pound Locke, and whichever does will get a player that Jordan says isn’t just a point guard.
“He’s a combo guard,” said Jordan, who was previously an assistant at Susquehanna University and then director of basketball operations for Lehigh. “He can score the basketball in a ton of different ways, whether it’s off the dribble (or not). But don’t get it twisted: The kid is a lights-out shooter. He’s so crafty with the ball.”
247Sports ranks Locke as a four-star prospect, the No. 76 overall player in the class of 2018 and the nation’s No. 15 point guard prospect. Ohio State has one commitment for the class in three-star shooting guard Torrence Watson from Whitfield School in St. Louis and is likely to add two more guards in this class.
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This season, Locke will find the ball in his hands more after the Eagles graduated a senior point guard. Jordan said Locke elevated his game during the summer and pointed to his work in the film room as being beneficial to his growth as a player.
“On the court, I wouldn’t want the ball in anyone else’s hands but his,” he said. “He’s a gym rat, works hard, he’s in the gym all the time and he’s a student of the game.
Locke’s older brother, Kayel, finished his playing career at UNC-Greensboro as the school’s sixth all-time leading scorer. His father, Kyle, played at Coppin State and has coached for Washington University’s women’s basketball team. His mother, Vanessa, is the athletic director at Baltimore Woodlawn.
In other words, the family is well-versed on how to handle a high-profile recruitment. Jordan said he offers support when asked, but that he’s otherwise able to focus on helping Locke become the best player possible. But a pressing need for backcourt help works in Ohio State’s favor.
“To my understanding, he wants to play stress-free, have it done with and be committed before the season starts so you’re not necessarily worrying about the stakes and the college coaches watching you and things like that,” Jordan said. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to take all of his official visits and then come back and figure out with the family which school has the best opportunity for him to play right away as well as have a great education.”
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