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Des Moines North 2019 point guard Tyreke Locure was hot from long range on the first night of the Cap City League. Matthew Bain, Sports writer

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WEST DES MOINES, Ia. — Tyreke Locure ambled his way off West Des Moines Valley's court, carrying exhausted legs after a morning workout, afternoon shooting session and nighttime Cap City League game.

He was chatting with the Register about his game, his offseason, his recruitment.

Soon, as is inevitable with any basketball conversation in Iowa, Bettendorf five-star point guard D.J. Carton got brought up. Locure smiled.

"I'm really happy for him," said the kid many consider the state's second-best point guard prospect. "Really, really happy for him."

While Carton has become the focal point of the state's significant Hawkeye-loving population, Des Moines cares just as passionately about Locure's future.

Locure is a true son of the city's hoops scene. He molded his bulldog mentality as a fifth-grader battling against high school and college guys in open gyms. Now, he represents all the metro area's basketball dreamers as the star point guard at Des Moines North. Some of those dreamers were on hand Sunday night, when Locure dropped 27 points alongside Iowa State freshman Tyrese Haliburton in a Cap City League win.

As Carton's recruitment nears its home stretch in eastern Iowa, Locure's recruitment is taking its own shape.

South Alabama has emerged as a strong suitor. The Jaguars coaching staff has shown the most interest lately, Locure said, and he and his dad will take an official visit to South Alabama's campus in Mobile this weekend — a two-hour drive from his hometown of New Orleans. There's no offer on the table yet. But, if a school invites a prospect for an official visit, that's significant. 

Locure also holds his North Dakota offer. The other schools showing the most interest are Georgia Tech, Missouri State, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota and Drake. At this point, Iowa isn't in the picture.

Drake's new staff is waiting to get more looks at Locure before deciding whether to re-extend Niko Medved's offer, but there's definitely mutual interest.

"It’s kind of been happening since the new staff came in," Locure said. "I’ve been talking to coach (Matt) Woodley a lot. Me and him, we chop it up like every day or so. He’s been trying to get me down to one of their open gyms.

"I should be going to a Drake open gym soon."

Minnesota began ramping up its interest in May, when Locure put together arguably his best-ever performance at a tournament in New Orleans. (Even better? He did that in front of family members he hadn't seen since Hurricane Katrina forced him to move to Des Moines in 2005.)

Gophers assistant coach Ed Conroy was also in the New Orleans area at the time, attending a family event. He didn't watch any of Locure's games because there are no NCAA-certified evaluation periods in May. 

But John Lamb, Locure's AAU program director with Beyond Ball, said Conroy heard about Locure's big-time games from those in attendance.

"Hasn't left me alone (in a good way)," Lamb texted at the time, referring to Conroy.

Minnesota wanted Locure to come up to Minneapolis for a camp this weekend, Locure said, but he is taking the official visit to South Alabama.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound point guard has established himself as a legitimate low- to mid-major prospect with fringe high-major potential. The Gophers' interest in him will be interesting to monitor. They recently lost on Carton and Minneapolis four-star point guard Tyrell Terry, so it's natural to wonder how many targets are above Locure on their point guard big board — and if there's a realistic possibility for an offer down the line.

For his part, though, Locure is just focused on improving his game. He's bumped his vertical leap up to 34.8 inches and he's working a lot on his pull-up midrange game.

He can score at all three levels, and his 3-point shot has turned into a high-end threat. Coaches love his attacking mentality, but they've also mentioned they'd like to see improvements in Locure's defense, he said. 

He's taking those notes to heart.

"It’s really defense — that’s the main focus for me," Locure said. "Keeping my man in front, just helping the team in all types of aspects. Being in the passing lanes when I need to be, making sure my man is nowhere near the paint, just being a pest all over the floor. Picking up full-court — all the type of stuff."

Locure will continue working out with his high school team for the rest of June. Then comes a crucial July, during which Locure will have his final opportunity this offseason to impress Division I coaches on the AAU basketball circuit.

"I just want to play at a high level, and whatever comes with it, comes," he said. "I’m not going to be worried about offers with this or offers with that.

"I’m just going to go out there and play my game, and hope I impress somebody."

Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at mbain@dmreg.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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