“It’s just meant to be!” Lockett returns to Israel with Trento to face former teammates now at Hapoel Tel Aviv

Nov 1, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Tel Aviv takes on Trento in EuroCup action on Wednesday (19:45) at the Drive In Arena as the Reds look to move their continental record to 3-1 early in the season. The Italian squad comes into the game winless and will be trying to pick up their first victory of the campaign.

While Trento features a number of players who once plied their trade in the Holy Land, one of those left an everlasting mark during his short stay in Israel that lasted only 14 games with Hapoel Jerusalem back at the start of the 2019/20 season.

Trent Lockett – Photo Credit: Eurocup

If you haven’t guessed yet who that player was his name is as close to Trento as can be in the one and only Trent Lockett.

The lockdown defender arrived in the capital city with high hopes to help be an integral part of head coach Oded Katash’s squad. Together with J’Covan Brown, Bar Timor, Idan Zalmanson, Tahswn Thomas, Su Braimoh and James Feldeine, Jerusalem had a team that mowed through the league early on winning the preseason Winner Cup tournament as well as kicking off Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israel State Cup.

That game will be remembered for not only Jerusalem’s big victory but also for Lockett’s reverberating slam dunk as he came off of the baseline and posterized Othello Hunter in an unforgettable moment for the Reds who were wearing their black uniforms that day.

Just ahead of Lockett’s return to Israel, the swingman spoke to The Sports Rabbi about the personal challenges he faced upon his departure from Jerusalem, his challenging return to the court, taking on three of his former teammates back in Israel and his feelings the moment he debarked from the plane.

“It feels good,” Lockett told The Sports Rabbi as he walked to the bus and someone recognized him immediately from his time in Israel back in 2019. “Leaving Jerusalem was kind of a traumatic time for me in my life and it feels really good to be back. It is reminding me of how many people supported me during that tough time in my life.”

Lockett looked back to the team that had been assembled for that season and spoke about why he had to leave everything behind to go home and be with his loved ones.

Trent Lockett – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“How were we able to put that team together,” Lockett reminisced. “We were so dangerous from every angle, Tae, JB, Su, Tamir and we were literally so super deep in every aspect with high level coaching that allowed that talent to flourish. Coach Katash and Yonchuk (Yonatan Alon) led the team and were the masterminds behind it as we were rolling. Playing in front of the Jerusalem fans was a great great experience.”

“I tried to hold on and I took one trip back to check on my mother. But when they said she was going to die, no matter how well we were playing, she was the only thing I ever had. She basically raised me and the fact that I would be walking through life with no parents was tough. When I got that news I wanted to be there for her and my sister.”

Judy Lockett raised both Trent and his sister Taylor as a single mother due to the fact that their father Ted passed away when they were very young. “The biggest thing I always reflect on is that she had my sister who was less than a year old and I was three when my father passed away and had no other option but to keep pushing. She instilled that fight in me and I am always trying to honor her as it changes you. She would have wanted me to keep pushing with all of my aspirations. Losing somebody so close to you, intensifies the immediate need to be even closer with the other relatives and relationships that you have in your life. You cherish that and the family have been super supportive.”

Trent Lockett – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

As 2020 began COVID-19 soon engulfed the entire world as Lockett began picking the pieces of one of the most difficult times in his life. Over that summer he decided to have arthroscopic surgery on his ankle to clean up some loose ends but the surgery which took place in Los Angeles did not go as planned.

“I couldn’t feel my leg and there was nerve damage, I didn’t know if I was ever going to play basketball again. I tried to do the surgery right before the season so I would be 100% but I go out of surgery and ended up with all kinds of issues.”

Lockett finally was able to return to the court at the beginning of 2021 when he joined Treviso in Italy where he played a dozen games to get his feet back under him so to speak and then it was on to Germany where he signed with a relative BBL newcomer in Chemnitz in December of 2021.

Trent Lockett – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“It was another good experience. I was still trying to work my way back and signed late but I walked into a situation with a good group of guys. It was a well coached team and we pushed the envelop as we finished 4th and beat Bayern Munich a few times in the regular season and then the faced them in the playoffs where we lost. We would have loved to make it further.”

One of the players Lockett shared the court with at Chemnitz was Darion Atkins who played for Hapoel Holon in the past. Atkins joined Trento and when Lockett found out he also made his way to the Italian team that he had played with back in his third season as a professional in 2015-16.

“To be back playing in Italy and feeling good is great. Trento gave me the opportunity to come and play with them and it’s kind of closing as circle as I had played with them earlier in my career. To see how they have grown as a club and how I have as well is fantastic. We have to get our first EuroCup win as we let a few slip away and while it’s early you don’t want that to continue.”

Trent Lockett – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Lockett who is now 31 years old sees himself in a bit of a different light as his playing career begins to move to the nest stage, “I’m taking it one year at a time and my first goal was to get physically back to be myself and impact the game which I wasn’t able to do until this point. That’s a big check off my list. I see myself more in a leadership role and more of someone that can be leaned on by the younger guys.”

Being back in Israel now also allowed Lockett to reflect on his Jerusalem coach Oded Katash who is now leading Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Euroleague, “I would say without a doubt he can be one of the greats and his resume speaks for itself. He does it his way and he changes the game in a sense. His style of coaching is not the typical style of the European coach from over the last 10-20 years and that adds to the imprint he has had on the game. His mind works different and the way sees the game there is no wonder that he was a high level great player. To see that it has translated into coaching is tremendous.”

Trent Lockett – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

While Katash won’t be on the sidelines when Lockett and Trento face Hapoel Tel Aviv, there will be plenty of familiar faces in Brown, Timor and Zalmanson on the opposite end of the court, “It’s just meant to be! I was giving our coach the full so scouting report. It’s exciting. They were there in a difficult time in my life and it will be great to reconnect. Guarding J’Covan in practice was always so challenging as he’s one guy that he has a special knack to play at his own pace and be extremely effective.”

Just a s we end our conversation, Lockett shares his thoughts as to how his team can take their first win of the campaign, “Making sure we stay to stay together throughout the game in that atmosphere. A lot of the offense goes through Xavier Munford and JB’s hands and we have to make an extra effort to slow things down. They are also a very good rebounding team, but if we can slow down their guard play we give ourselves a chance. May the best man win.”

Trent Lockett – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

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