TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State could lose its fourth player in a year after junior Trent Lockett asked to be released from his scholarship so he could transfer to be closer to his ailing mother.
Arizona State's leading scorer this past season, Lockett recently learned his mother has cancer and is looking into the possibility of finishing his playing career closer to his home in Minnesota.
"With the recent news of my mother's illness, I want to be honest with everyone and say that it is in my best interest to possibly pursue playing my final season closer to home," Lockett said in a statement. "At this time, my energy and focus needs to start now on being as close to my mom as I can while at the same time pursuing career goals with one year of college basketball remaining."
Lockett, who averaged 13 points and nearly six rebounds in the 2011-12 season, is scheduled to graduate this summer and could possibly play for another school next season if he does decide to transfer. He left open the possibility of returning to Tempe, saying he had to take this step in preparation.
"We are giving Trent and his family all of our support at this time," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek. "At the present moment, the focus is making sure he and his family know that Arizona State is here to help him. Trent is a wonderful young man who has been an outstanding ambassador for our university and basketball program and has established himself as one of the best players that I have ever coached."
Should Lockett transfer, it would leave the Sun Devils in a big bind.
The program, after a good start under Sendek, has floundered over the past two seasons. Plagued by injuries and inconsistency, Arizona State has won just 22 games the past two years, including 10 this past season.
The Sun Devils also have had a string of exits, with 11 players leaving the program over the past four years.
This season, guard Keala King was dismissed from the team for violating team rules, guard Chanse Creekmur decided to transfer to pursue football at a school closer to his home in Iowa and forward Kyle Cain also announced plans to transfer.
Arizona State has six new players coming in next season, including prized point guard Jahii Carson, but losing the team's leading scorer and leader could be tough to overcome.
"The main reason we've had student-athletes transfer out of our program is a combination of expectations around playing time and holding them accountable for their actions," Sendek said. "It is important that we maintain certain standards and expectations and not lower them. Ideally, we want everybody to stay and graduate. But in some instances it's better for them not to stay."
Sendek added that the Lockett situation was different from the others because it involved a deeply personal issue and that the school will provide any support it can.