Beyond the game: Taeler Deer, freshman guard

Sports Reporter

Taeler Deer is a legend in Channelview, Texas, a small, tight-knit suburb of Houston.

Deer’s number, 23, was retired in the high school gym. Her relationship with her coach, Kim Lockett, is about more than basketball.

In Lockett’s eyes, Deer is the daughter she never had.  

Their relationship grew over four years. Lockett was always available to her players but expected more from Deer.

Deer remembers an instance when Channelview was inbounding the ball. She was open in the corner, but Lockett told the other point guard to set the play up. Deer was upset, and Lockett benched her for the remaining two minutes of the game.

The team lost their seven-point lead and went into overtime.

“Then she said, ‘Taeler, get in the game and show me something!’” Deer said. “So I got in the game, and I won the game for us.”

Lockett has been coaching at Channelview for the past 13 years. Lockett coached Deer’s relatives long before she came to play for Channelview High School. Deer grew up around the influence of Lockett, who she describes as a nosy mom. Lockett is interested in the well-being of her student athletes. 

“She wants to know everybody’s business,” Deer said. “She does know everybody’s business. Things you don’t think she knows, Coach Lockett knows. She knows everything just because she cares. Everybody that comes through the program gets really close to Coach Lockett.”

Deer had a basketball hoop at her house when she moved to Channelview in the fourth grade. She played with it every day. The neighborhood marveled at the girl down the street who had skill beyond her age.  

“Taeler was dribbling a basketball in our gym at Channelview since she was about seven years old,” Lockett said.

Deer started on varsity as a freshman. People took notice of her ability. She was popular in high school because of her basketball prowess. However, with that attention came big expectations.

“Playing on varsity as a freshman, Taeler was thrown into the fire kind of early, and there were maturity issues at first,” Lockett said. “I think dealing with that helped her mature and made her into the person she is today.”

Deer has received more minutes as the current season progresses. She had a career-high 23 points in 29 minutes against Appalachian State.

“When we heard about the great game Taeler had, all of us in Channelview were excited and rooting for her,” Lockett said.

Lockett and Deer keep in touch and communicate about once a month. Their conversations do not just relate to basketball.

Lockett only needs one word to describe Deer.

“‘Extraordinary,’” Lockett said. “She’s a phenomenal person.”

 

Follow Paul Livengood on Twitter @IamLivengood.