By Carley Crain
Louisiana is typically known for Mardi Gras, Jazz music, and Drew Brees – not its association with basketball. Therefore, Isidore Newman School (LA) star Chris Lockett’s journey to gain recognition has been a challenge.
His rankings on different sports sites like ESPN have fluctuated over the years, and he was once one of the top 100 prospects nationally. The “underdog mentality” has involuntarily been placed on him, but he has learned to embrace that mindset, which has in turn increased his confidence as a player.
“Being labeled as an underdog is like a blessing and a curse,” Lockett said. “It keeps me hungry for what is in front of me.”
His 6-foot-5 build, profound 3-point range and IQ for the game set Lockett apart from other athletes his age. His talent on the court was recognizable starting from a young age, and by his freshman year of high school, he was an ESPN 5-star recruit.
“Through my experience, I am always able to reel them back in, and tell them there is always more work to do and provide some life lessons,” said Newman head coach Randy Livingston about keeping his players, like Lockett, focused with so much media attention on them. “Our job is to protect them and make sure when they leave Newman High School, they are ready for the world.”
But as Lockett’s high school career progressed, his name started to fade from the headlines – due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
His focus shifted less from having the flashiest plays to becoming a master of his craft, which arguably is what caused Lockett to have less of a spotlight on him. Strategy and intelligence became Lockett’s top priorities as a player.
“The world of social media is about highlights, it’s not about winning, making tough plays, or making rebounds,” Livingston said. “It’s not about guarding. With Chris, you get a guy with a high basketball IQ, his body matured earlier. And you don’t see the athletic, flashy stuff. But if you look beyond all the superficial stuff, I see someone who will do whatever it takes on the court to win.”
When Lockett transferred to Isidore Newman from the public school system, it was a tough transition. But, Lockett noted the support and encouragement he received from day one. One family in particular provided the most support, that being the Manning family. Arch Manning – whose uncles are former NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning and whose grandfather is Archie Manning, the New Orleans Saints legend – is currently the top football recruit in the country and is headed to the University of Texas next fall. He attends Isidore Newman and has become close with Lockett.
“They can tell you that I struggled quickly, but I just asked for help through it all with Arch,” Lockett said. “And his mom and dad welcomed me with open arms so I consider them family now.”
When looking at colleges, Lockett wanted to be part of a program where he could immediately make a difference. He didn’t want to ride the bench as a first-year student. Lockett wanted to feel at home, and Boise State was the perfect match.
“Boise made me a priority, and they have been watching me since the ninth grade,” Lockett said. “They told me how I could impact the system quickly as a freshman and come and play immediately. They are just trying to help me get where I want to be – which is the NBA.”
On the court, Lockett came to play at the 2023 Spalding Hoophall Classic. His quick, physical presence was hard to ignore. Newman and Bishop O’Connell High School (VA) went to overtime before Newman prevailed 67-64 in the first contest of the day on Saturday’s long slate of games.
Lockett will leave Springfield as the most valuable player of the game, but not without devouring a few slices of Red Rose Pizza postgame, something he was adamant about when rushing off the court.
Photo: Garrett Cote / The Student