Friday, Dec. 28 2012 4:53PM
Lee’s Summit quarterback turned point guard
By Brian Spano
Special to the Journal
Drew Lock gets asked the question almost on a daily basis: Will you play football or basketball at the next level?
The Lee’s Summit High School sophomore, who excels as a quarterback on the gridiron and a shooting guard on the hardwood, has formulated the most diplomatic answer: “I’m still deciding, but when they ask me, I tell them it’s whatever season is in. And whenever I’m not in season, it’s a tie. I hear it almost every day, and it’s so hard to give them an answer.”
So maybe politics is in his future. Well, maybe not, especially when he has already averaged more than 21 points per game through the Tigers first eight games of the season. Lock even started last season as a freshman, so head coach Keith Miller knew he had a special player coming in.
“He’s got it,” Miller said of Lock’s natural ability. “Some kids, you can tell by their game that they have it. He was able to step on the floor and compete. He’s able to do what he does against whomever he wants. If someone takes something away, he’s able to find a way to get a shot. He’s not one-dimensional. I think I knew he was going to be a really good player when he was in the eighth grade in the summer when we would have open gyms, and he would come and the older kids would choose him. Honestly, I think he could have played varsity basketball in the eighth grade, not as a starter, but as a guy who could come off the bench and make an impact.”
That’s high praise for someone who is so young, yet has so much talent. Miller even compared him to one of his former players when he was coaching at Mexico, Mo., Cookie Belcher, who went on to star at the University of Nebraska.
“They have a lot of the same qualities where they are good outside shooters,” he said. “They both have great hands, and Drew probably has the best hands I’ve seen. He’s able to deflect balls. When he does rebound, and that’s an area he needs to improve on, he’s able to get the ball, and it’s his. The other thing is he makes the game look simple. It’s so smooth and so effortless. That’s how you can tell where a really good player is, where they make the game look like it’s not hard.”
Lock stands 6-feet, 4-inches tall and weighs in at 180 pounds. Even though he’s a sharpshooter for the team, hitting nearly 60 percent from beyond the three-point arc, this year he’s trying to expand his game beyond just the perimeter. Two things he wants to improve on are his dribbling and rebounding.
Now, Lock is focused on the task at hand. It’s not about whether his future will be in football or basketball. Although, he is getting noticed for his court skills, and he doesn’t really want to discuss those options just yet. He just wants to improve his game and be the best basketball player he can be.
“These past couple of years have probably been focused more on me getting bigger and stronger and working on my game,” he said. “The one thing I worked on really hard is dribbling. I was awful at dribbling. I’m getting better. I always worked on shooting. Dribbling isn’t something I’m doing that often, but it would be nice to acquire that skill which is why I’ve been working on it.”
Size, or lack of it, may be the biggest issue for these Tigers, and that’s probably been the toughest obstacle for the team’s inconsistent start to the season. But that won’t deter Lock or any of his teammates from doing what they need to do to improve as the season rolls along and they bring it all together.
“We’ve played some good teams, and the best team we’ve probably played is Park Hill South,” Lock said. “I think size gets us a lot, and Park Hill South is big. When we went to St. Louis, we played Maplewood-Richmond Heights. They were big too, and they had guys that chucked me around everywhere. I think size is something we lack. It’s something you can’t control, but you have to fight through it, which is why they have me coming in rebounding to help our guys down low.”
Senior forward Matthew Crance, who has been through the battles during his four years at Lee’s Summit knows this season has been tough so far, but sees good things happening before it comes to an end.
“It’s been up and down this season, and we’re still trying to find ourselves right now,” said Crance. “We have four players that played previous varsity minutes, so it’s kind of hard when you don’t have a full team that’s been at this level before. We have a lot of seniors. We’re an old team. We’re a strong team. We’re just not very experienced. With more games that will come, and we’ll definitely get better throughout the season.”
As a sophomore, Lock is one of the few who have logged those varsity minutes. At such a young age with the success he has achieved and as he continues to gain the playing experience, he is also learning something even more valuable from the seniors and others that have come before him: leadership skills. There has been a chemistry that has seemed to work right from the start.
“They’ve been very accepting,” Lock said. “Last year’s guys were really good too. I’m sure every once in a while they would get a little mad at me, like who is this kid, why is he shooting so much? But yeah, it’s been relatively easy coming in. I’ve been learning from them and taking it and running with it. It’s been like, ‘let’s just go out and win games.’”
Even his coach has seen those skills transfer from the football field to the basketball court.
“From the football season being a quarterback, being the leader, being in that position, he’s taken that skill and those qualities and brought those to the basketball court,” Miller said. “He’s learning how to be a more efficient and effective leader that way. He’s not a very verbal guy most of the time, but he’s learning how to grow into that role, and even as talented as he is, he’s still 15 years old and he’s competing on a daily basis with 17 and 18 year old guys.
“In basketball, there are less guys involved, so it helps to have senior leaders as well because it provides an example of what he can be when he’s a senior. It’s a delicate balance, but I think our kids are doing a good job with it.”
Lock has drawn attention off the court for his play, but he draws attention on it from other teams as opposing coaches must game plan to, at the very least, try to slow him down. But by focusing as much attention on Lock as they do, it has opened up plenty of opportunities for his teammates.
“Last year, Drew had a great season, and he has kept it going this season,” Crance said. Teams are figuring out he can shoot so they’re starting to put a little more pressure on him. He can handle it, and he’s made some shots, but it’s opened up some shots for the rest of us. Normally, defenders will hedge off toward him, so the help side will be a little late. We can get a dribble-drive, and the help’s probably not going to be there. On our set plays, we can have Drew as a decoy and send him out to a corner, that takes his defender with him, so then we’re just playing four-on-four.”
So with two years of football and two-and-a-half years of basketball remaining in his high school career, Lock will enjoy the time. He knows it will go fast. He will cherish the moments. He will work as hard as he can to improve as a student and as a player. His future is bright, and his coach has known it for quite some time.
“I think he’ll continue to grow, so he’s going to get bigger,” Miller said. “I think for him, what he can be really good at is obviously his shooting ability where he can shoot over people. The other thing he’s working on this year is being able to score in the low post with a guy on his backside and be able to have some move off the dribble. When he gets that, he’s going to be unstoppable. He’s played a lot of basketball on the perimeter. He’s now learning how to play inside. If he grows his game, then it will make him all the more impressive.”