Last time I spoke to Noah Locke the Gators commit was closing out the final games of his high school career. I got a chance to speak with him about what it’s like to look back on his AAU career and what he thinks it will take for the Gators to win a National Championship during his time in Gainesville.
EF: Hey Noah! Last time we spoke you were closing out your high school career and were approaching 2000 career points. How did your season end and what was it like to reach your goal?
NL: Personally my season finished out pretty well because of me becoming the all-time leading scorer at my school and receiving other accolades, but unfortunately, our season as a team did not finish as we wanted it to. But overall I think we learned a lot throughout the season and that would definitely translate into next year.
EF: Congratulations on becoming your school’s highest scorer! I know you were leading a young team and the leadership you passed down should really help them next year. You got to play in the Capital Classic, a loaded high school all-star game with tons of top talent. How was the experience for you in that game and which player did you enjoy playing with the most?
NL: The experience was great, I got to bond with a lot of the top guys and make some new relationships with them. I really liked playing with Cole Swider the most because we became close friends a while back and it was good to play with him one last time.
EF: I know he’s off to Villanova and with the way that program is humming it makes sense that he’s a great guy (laughs). Maybe you’ll get to face off against him in an NCAA Tournament game some time! At this time last year you were in the grind of the EYBL season looking to showcase yourself to college teams. With that part of your career finished, do you miss AAU ball and if so, what do you miss?
NL: Yes! I miss AAU so much, I think about it almost every weekend. I just loved traveling and playing on the highest stage in front of so many coaches. Also my teammates were family and we always had so much fun on every trip. Also every game that we played was a big game and every game counted, so it brought the best out of everyone and I just love playing at a high level.
EF: It’s funny, as much as AAU gets a bad rap from a lot of big time college basketball writers, the players always love it. Speaking of traveling, you get the chance to travel to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis during Thanksgiving, one of the many difficult challenges the Gators will face next year with a tough non-conference schedule and a really talented SEC. Is there a team you’re most looking forward to playing in your freshman year?
NL: To be honest, I’m looking forward to playing everyone on the schedule because I know there will be a lot of tough games which will be great experiences for me. Also, I am looking forward to all the traveling!
EF: I’m glad you’re ready to take on the challenge of the tough schedule. This is a topic I’m sure you get asked about a lot but I’ve got to jump in on it… your shooting. Everyone wants to be a shooter nowadays but no one did it better than you in the EYBL last year…you shot 49.5% from three which is absurd, by the way (laughs). How did you become such a great shooter?
NL: It’s pretty natural to me because my dad was also a shooter but I have also put so many hours in the gym working on different types of shots which really improved my jump shot also. So it’s a mixture of natural talent and hard work.
EF: I think I remember seeing a video of your younger sister hitting a half court shot at the practice facility in Gainesville so it seems like shooting does run in the family a bit (laughs). I also have to ask… Many Gators fans have already deemed the 3-point line at the O’Dome “Noah’s Arc” because of how well you shoot the three. Do you like the sound of that nickname for the 3-point line? (laughs)
NL: (laughs) Yeah! That sounds great! (laughs)
EF: (laughs) I’m glad you like it because I’m sure you’re going to see it from the Rowdy Reptiles! With the graduation of Chris Chiozza, there are a ton of available point guard minutes that need to be filled. Fellow class of 2018 commit Andrew Nembhard is going to really help there, but past him there will be a lot of minutes still at that spot. Do you have any interest in playing point guard at the college level or do you see yourself more of a scoring guard off of the ball?
NL: I am interested in playing both the point guard and being a scorer, whatever would help us win a National Championship. I really like scoring the ball though.
EF: With the way Andrew passes and the way you score I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the way you guys play together. The Gators recently had a coaching change, bringing in Al Pinkins to fill the spot vacated by Dusty May going to FAU. Have you had a chance to connect much with Coach Pinkins?
NL: No, I haven’t had a chance to connect with him yet but I am definitely looking forward to it!
EF: He’s a great add to the staff and I’m sure you’ll get along just fine! After watching the Gators last year, which returner are you looking forward to playing with the most?
NL: When I went on the visit I got to connect with the team well and I know would enjoy playing with everyone. I would have liked to play with Cheese too though (laughs).
EF: (laughs) With the way he passes I think he’d be everyone’s favorite guy to play with. You’ve made it clear your goal in college is to win a championship, a sentiment echoed by your fellow recruiting classmates Andrew Nembhard and Keyontae Johnson. What do you think needs to happen for the Gators to win another championship during your college career?
NL: I think that playing together as a team is a HUGE part in winning. We have all the talent to do so. I also feel that confidence and toughness are big factors in winning a championship because if we aren’t confident that we can win a championship then it will never happen. All those things and hard work are things that I think can win us a championship. Me personally; I am really greedy for a championship because I never won one during high school and never won one on the Nike circuit.
EF: Though it’s too bad you couldn’t get a championship in high school or on the Nike circuit it would be pretty cool for your first championship to be a NCAA Championship! That’s great stuff man. Thanks so much for your time, I always enjoy talking to you and I’m sure I’ll hit you up again later in the summer. One last thing, who you got winning the NBA Championship?
NL: No problem man, anytime! I want to see LeBron get another one but if not them then I want the Rockets to win it all!
EF: Thanks man, I’m in the same boat. I love LeBron, and I am ready for someone other than Golden State (laughs). Take care!
NL: Right! You too!