Oak Park-River Forest boys basketball preview

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Coach Matt Maloney

Maloney has an added challenge this season to incorporate three incoming transfers into the mix with a seasoned backcourt led by Erick Locke and Jason Gant. The newcomers are 6-foot-7 Javonni Harrell (Foreman), 6-5 Simmie Cobbs Jr. (Montini) and 6-4 Malik Garrett (Mount Carmel). All of them could find their way into the starting lineup early in the season. Cobbs committed to play football at Purdue last month.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete. He does so many things,” Maloney said of Cobbs. “He’s athletic on both ends of the floor.”

Gurd Erick Locke

OPRF’s leading scorer made an instant impact after transferring from Brooks a year ago. The senior guard is attracting interest from the Ivy League and Patriot League, but Maloney believes a strong start will open more recruiting opportunities for Locke by the Pontiac Holiday tournament. 

“He looks tremendous,” Maloney said. “He has really improved his point guard skills. He’s a tremendous distributor and scorer. He’s learning to run a team.”

Locke and Cobbs played both played at Brooks Middle School.

e’ll provide another voice in the gym.”

Guard Jason Gant

Along with Locke, Gant is the only other prominent returnee from last year’s regional champion squad. Gant earned a starting position midway through last season and showed tremendous upside as the season went on.

“I consider Erick and Jason as 1A and 1B,” Maloney said. “(Gant) gives us a scoring option and he has improved his game behind the arc.”

— George M. Wilcox

“Locke is multi-faceted and handles the ball well. He’s good off the dribble. You can’t foul him because he’s so good at the free-throw line. He scores in so many different ways, he’s difficult to defend.”

2012-13 record: 20-10, 8-4 West Suburban Silver (tied second)

2013 playoffs: Lost 67-48 to Proviso East in Class 4A sectional final

Head coach: Matt Maloney

Projected starting five: G Jason Gant, sr.; F Simmie Cobbs Jr., sr.; G Erick Locke, sr.; F-C Javonni Harrell, sr.; G Malik Garrett, sr.

Game to watch: Hinsdale Central at Oak Park-River Forest, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13. If OPRF is to win its second conference title in three years, beating last year’s champs will be a good way to start.  This is the Huskies’ West Suburb Silver opener.

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