Jake is living the dream
A Norwich teenager chasing his American basketball dream has been showcasing his skills to an audience of millions.
Jake Lockhart has turned out around 10 times for the Morgan State University team, with several of the high-octane matches played in front of crowds up to 30,000 and broadcast to a nationwide audience of millions by ESPN.
'The American college basketball scene has a massive following,' said Jake, 19.
'The top teams such as Louisville and Syracuse have gyms that can hold up to 40,000 people.'
Jake dropped in on a Norwich All Stars Basketball Club Sunday training session to speak about life on the ultra-competitive States college circuit and pass on a few of his special tips and skills.
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He was a 14-year-old boy when he left Norwich after being awarded a scholarship at the Detroit Country Day High School in Michigan after catching the eye of talent-spotters.
His journey has taken him via St Andrews in Florida to the Morgan State University in Baltimore where he has been playing at NCAA Division One level for the Bears.
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The head coach at Morgan is the internationally-renowned Todd Bozeman, who played a key role in the development of current NBA superstar Jason Kidd.
A move to Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Florida, will be the next port of call for the 6ft 4in shooting guard Jake, who has been competing with and against some of the brightest young prospects on the scene but remains level-headed about his own chances of breaking through into the lucrative NBA professional arena.
'Naturally my dream was always to play at the highest level possible but the difference is I am very focused on making sure I always have a back-up. The academic side is very important even though being a basketball player is my dream.'
Jake, who is majoring in business administration, said: 'Young athletes can be focused on one goal. The way I see it there are many goals you can attain.'
The former Notre Dame High School pupil added: 'I am going back to Florida next because I didn't like the atmosphere in Baltimore. It was not a very nice city and I don't think academically it was the full package for me.'
Jake said his return to the All Stars brought back many happy memories. 'I remember it being a really good developmental stage for me. They were very happy times.'
He added: 'It was nice to see the young kids who were in the same position as I was five years ago. It was nice to talk to them and give them some advice.'
Coach Freddie Wilson said he and the players were delighted to see Jake. 'The guys were really excited to see him. When he was here last time he was really little.'