Reality just set in for Herb Sendek and his Arizona State basketball program.
Trent Lockett announced to the world via twitter that he will be transferring to Marquette for his final year of eligibility. Arizona State confirmed his decision in an official statement Saturday.
There was no ‘shock and awe’ involved, even though Lockett was the team’s best player and leading scorer. He had asked Sendek in March to be released from his scholarship and said at the time he was considering leaving the school after this semester.
But, until now, there was that flicker of hope that he would reconsider.
The 6’5″ swingman was hampered by a severely-sprained ankle for part of the last season, but still led the team in scoring with 13 points a game, and also was the top rebounder with 5.8 boards a game. Defensively, his 37 steals were tops on the stat chart.
Lockett graduated from ASU this month, accomplishing the mission in just three years, and that will enable him to have immediate eligibility to play for the Golden Eagles. Marquette will just have to apply for a waiver from the NCAA to avoid having him sit out a season.
His addition to the roster will help Marquette fill some of the void left when its two top scorers used up their final years of eligibility this past season – helping the team to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
The native of Golden Valley, Minn., decided he wanted to be a Sun Devil when he was just 16 years old, and says he would have played out his final year in Tempe if his mother’s health had held out.
His mother, Judy, had fought off breast cancer when Trent was just entering his teen years, but beat the disease. But it returned, in the form of a rare lymphoma, in early March of this year and put the idea of transferring back home into motion. He wanted to be there for his mother, to help her fight it again.
Lockett narrowed his list of new teams to Iowa State, Minnesota, and Marquette. The Marquette campus is about a five-hour drive from his mother’s home, he felt he would be a good fit with its head coach, and he was impressed by the fan support he had witnessed there. So he gave his oral commitment to coach Buzz Williams on Saturday.
The departure of Lockett is particularly significant for ASU, since he is the third player to leave the program in the off-season. In March, the Sun Devils lost of couple of promising contributors who played significant roles last season as sophomores.
Kyle Cain, a forward who played in 29 games, left first in early March. He was followed 10 days later by Chanse Creekmur, a wingman who could play either guard or forward and contributed in 30 games.
Sendek will have a trio of returning players who had starting roles last season: Carrick Felix, Jordan Bachynski, and Jonathan Gilling. And Mesa High School standout, Jahii Carson, will be on the floor after sitting out his freshman year because the NCAA wouldn’t rule him eligible to play last season.
Carson was the No. 10 prospect in the country at his point-guard position when graduating from Mesa High, and the highest-rated recruit from inside the state to sign with ASU.
Now, with an extra year of maturation, he may be able to bring Sendek the kind of leadership at the point he sorely missed last season, when a variety of players – including Lockett – tried to fill the void by playing out of position as the Sun Devils tumbled to a 10-21 final record.
The losing record is the second in a row for Sendek, who put together three straight 20-win seasons shortly after he arrived from North Carolina State in 2006. Despite the recent downturn, he got a two-year contract extension last year to give him some time to begin turning things around again.
But his game plan for digging out of the hole most certainly had included having Lockett and Turner on the floor together next year.
Now, that train has definitely left the station.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)