Former Arizona State wing Trent Lockett – who announced his decision to transfer to Marquette Saturday – remembers the details from the entire, life-altering day.
In early March, he’d gone to a buddy’s house in Phoenix, Ariz., where he’s spent the last three years as a standout wing (13.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg) for the Sun Devils.
Lockett and his friend were watching TV and relaxing like upperclassmen should with just a few weeks remaining in the semester.
And then the phone rang.
It was Judy Lockett, his mother. She called to tell her only son that she’d been diagnosed with cancer. Again.
A “crazy, rare” form of lymphoma had attacked her system. And doctors weren’t exactly sure how to approach her treatment.
“I think your first reaction is like ‘She’s done so much for us and for so many different people in her life, how does this happen to her? She doesn’t deserve it,’” he told ESPN.com. “At the same time, you can’t waste any energy and time worrying about things that you can’t control. The only things that we can worry about now is one, making sure that the time we spend together is well worth it and two, try to do the best we can to fight this off.”
If only that spring phone call hadn’t felt so familiar.
Lockett hated the news but he despised the memories, too.
Judy Lockett raised him and his sister in Golden Valley, Minn., as a single parent. They were young when they lost their father.
He’d been diagnosed with leukemia. The cancer and chemotherapy weakened his body. But he ultimately died of complications stemming from a heart attack.
Lockett, just 3 at the time, said he doesn’t recall much from his father’s battle with cancer. But he wonders how his mother survived without “her soul mate.”
“I don’t even understand how she did this,” Lockett said.
It would not be the last time cancer bombarded his family.
About a decade later, Lockett’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a scary time with many unknowns. Through treatment and perseverance, however, she beat the disease.
“She caught it fairly early, was able to do some chemo and got it out of there,” he said. “I was young. I don’t think I understood the effects of cancer and how dangerous it is.”
Judy Lockett pressed forward as her son became one of the top basketball players in the country. The breast cancer never returned.
Lockett, along with former Iowa State star Royce White, led Hopkins High School (Minnetonka, Minn.) to an undefeated season and a state championship during his senior season in 2009.
He took his talents to Arizona State, where he developed into the squad’s top player and leading scorer.
He was a gem for Sendek’s program even as it spiraled downward during the 2011-12 campaign. Lockett planned to return for his senior season.
The drama from last year -- multiple players transferred and the team finished with a 10-21 record -- didn’t deter Lockett who said he’s hurt by any suggestions the Sun Devils’ challenges influenced his decision.
He said he just wants to spend more time with his mother. Competing for a school closer to his home in the Twin Cities -- a straight shot from Marquette (Milwaukee, Wis.) via Interstate 94 -- will allow him to do that.
“It gives his whole family a sense of comfort,” said Lockett’s former AAU coach, Marquise Watts. “I think that will put him at ease and allow him to just go out and enjoy his senior year and play.”
Lockett refuses to discuss timetables related to his mother’s diagnosis, out of respect for her, but he admits that he’s cherishing every day, every conversation.
When his father died, he was too young to process the magnitude of the loss. Even during his mother’s first cancer scare, he was naïve about the gravity of her condition, he said.
But he’s 21 now.
“She’s my only parent left. If she goes, it’s just me and my sister. That was what immediately crossed my mind [when I decided to transfer],” Lockett said.
Lockett considered Iowa State and Marquette once he received Sendek’s blessing. He even flirted with Gonzaga, where former AAU teammate and friend Sam Dower is a top post player.
But he ultimately chose Buzz Williams’ program. He said he liked Williams’ energy and the idea of competing for a potential Big East contender in his final year of Division I basketball.
The 6-5 guard/forward will not have to sit out a year. Marquette will apply for a waiver that should grant Lockett immediate eligibility because he graduated from Arizona State in three years. The NCAA waiver applies to student-athletes who pursue master’s degrees in disciplines that aren’t offered at their former schools.
Lockett said he reached his decision Friday night.
His mother and sister flew to Arizona for his graduation ceremony last week. And they talked about the pros and cons of his options before he chose Marquette.
The school is just a five-hour drive from his mother’s Minnesota home. And Judy Lockett has already tracked down $35 round-trip bus tickets to Milwaukee.
“She said she’s going to be using that with her friends,” Lockett said.
Judy Lockett won’t start treatment until she helps daughter Taylor Lockett move to Pittsburgh, where she’ll play volleyball at Duquesne, this summer. Then, she’ll help Lockett get comfortable in Milwaukee.
She’s scheduled for another appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., soon.
And until then, Lockett said he’s not going to make any assumptions about this mother’s situation or future. Instead, he’ll focus on their proximity and their time together, he said.
“When she came out for my graduation, it kind of hit me. She looks really good and she has been doing well. The only thing is she gets fatigued during the day,” Lockett said. “It’s going to be an ongoing process. And it kind of really makes you appreciate who she is as a person and all she’s done for me in my life.”