McDonogh's Kayel Locke starring on AAU circuit
For McDonogh's Kayel Locke, this summer has been business as usual on the court.
A 6-foot-5, 255-pound power forward, Locke has followed up a standout junior season with a starring role for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit. The Eagles star had a breakout performance last week at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C.
“It was pretty good, getting an opportunity to play in front of a lot of college coaches,” Locke said. “My role is just to pretty much be a leader on the court. … I get out there and rebound, score in the post, score outside the post. I just go out and play hard, do all the dirty work.”
Locke’s shining moment came during NBE’s 78-71 win over Virginia-based Boo Williams on the first night of pool play at the Peach Jam. Locke paced his squad with 23 points and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes. For the tournament, Locke averaged 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. He shot nearly 48 percent from the field in leading NBE to a 3-2 record.
“My father always warned me that … this is pretty much go hard or go home at this time, especially around the Peach Jam,” Locke said. “Every college coach, pretty much, in the nation is watching. I knew that I was going to get looks. … I’m always grateful that people are out there watching, giving me the chance and opportunity to show what I’ve got."
Locke’s play on the circuit is just a continuation of his junior season at McDonogh. An MIAA A Conference first-team selection and second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro pick, Locke averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles. While he plays on a team of Baltimore’s best on the circuit, his role with Nike Elite is similar to what he does in high school.
“I’ve been playing the big man all my life. I’ve always been an undersized forward,” Locke said. “The thing I have that’s unique in that spot is that I’m stronger and also quicker than the bigger, taller forwards. They put a little guy on me, I just post them up and score. With a taller guy, I’ll take him out in the high post and score from there. For me, it’s all about matchups, finding the weakness in the defender and taking advantage of that.”
Several mid-major college programs have taken note of Locke’s play. He has offers from Appalachian State, Boston University, Delaware, Hartford, Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s, Stony Brook, Towson, UMBC and UNC-Greensboro. Locke said he’s also received interest from Dayton, La Salle and Northeastern.
Locke said Towson and UNC-Greensboro “are the ones reaching out the most.” With the Tigers, Greyhounds, Retrievers and Mountaineers all in the mix, Locke said he’s thinking “more and more” about staying close to home for college. While he’s completely wide open and has no favorites, he has been impressed by Towson’s new staff.
“The coaching staff seems real passionate about what they’re doing,” Locke said. “They pretty much kept it straightforward with me. I can go there and do big things as long as I work hard. I really like the coaching staff there. They’re really cool guys. I can see myself working hard there for four years. It’s a lot to think about the whole process. But it’s nice knowing there are schools out there that want to see you do good and want to see you be successful.”
Locke and his NBE teammates will travel to Orlando this weekend for the Super Showcase, which they won last summer in the 16-and-under division. Locke’s hoping for a repeat performance.
“We’ve got the pieces to do it,” Locke said. “It just depends how hard we work and how much we want to win.”
Baltimore Sun photo of Kayel Locke by Amy Davis / Jan. 25, 2011