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Father Judge's Laquan Byrd makes dream come true at Lock Haven

06/11/2024, 1:00pm EDT
By Owen McCue

By Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

Father Judge senior Laquan Byrd started his graduation celebration a little early last week.

A day before Byrd took his final high school test and a few more before he officially got his diploma, he decided where he’d be headed to school next year. 

The 6-foot-3 guard from North Philadelphia announced May 29 that he will continue his career at Lock Haven, where he hopes to torment opponents like he did in the Catholic League.

“Lock Haven stood out from the beginning,” Byrd said. “Once I went to the visit, everything was just perfect for me. When I saw the facility, when I saw the classrooms, everything just stood out forme. It felt like home.”

Byrd transferred to Judge after his freshman season at Constitution, arriving with coach Chris Roantree prior to the start of the 2021-22 season with hopes of helping turn the program around. That’s exactly what he did.

As a sophomore, Byrd played in just five games (15.4 ppg) as Judge finished 4-9 in the PCL (11th). He earned second team All-Catholic League honors as a junior after averaging 14.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg in 2022-23, which were both team highs, helping the Crusaders improve to 6-7 (9th) and make the Catholic League playoffs.

Father Judge senior Laquan Byrd is headed to Lock Haven. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

The emergence of junior Kevair Kennedy and sophomore Derrick Morton-Rivera took some of the scoring load of Byrd’s plate this season, but he averaged 12.9 ppg, 2.7 apg and 6.8 rpg to help Judge to a 10-4 mark in the PCL (sixth) and earn second team honors once again.

“That experience was great, going in there with Coach Chris and helping him build a program, seeing the improvements as a team because we knew what type of team we was and once we put it all together we turned into the team we always knew we was,” Byrd said.

His senior campaign ended with a trip to the Palestra as Judge reached the PCL semifinals for the first time in 25 years.

“That was definitely cool because Judge hadn’t been to the Palestra since (1999),” Byrd said. That was very exciting to see the crowd, see the alumni on the sidelines. That was very exciting to just play in that game.”

Byrd started his sports career as a dual sport athlete on the gridiron and basketball court.

Anyone who has seen Byrd take the floor for Father Judge over the last three seasons can imagine the fear Byrd put into opposing PeeWee players while toting the rock for the North Philly Blackhawks.

Byrd is a physically imposing presence at the guard position and was plenty comfortable dishing out contact as well as taking it on his way to the rim – one of the area’s best at getting downhill. 

“I think that will actually help me a lot at the next level,” said Byrd, who noted Russell Westbrook was one of his favorite players growing up. “Just being prepared to take bumps and fouls. Just finishing.”

Roantree and his staff helped him round out his game and improving his midrange jump shot will continue to be a focus at the next level. 

Byrd was also one of the senior leaders along with forward Anthony Lilley, and the Lock Haven coaches enjoyed watching him find his voice on the court in his final high school campaign.

“They liked me as a senior being more vocal, being more aggressive,” Byrd said.

West Chester, Wilmington (Del.) and East Stroudsburg were the other programs recruiting Byrd. When he took his visit to Lock Haven in early May, however, something felt right.

He got to know Lock Haven coach Mike Nestor over the last two years, even meeting his family. And the opportunity the Eagles presented was too good to pass up —- something he’d been dreaming his whole life for.

“That was always a goal to play college and go to a school for free,” Byrd said. “That was always a goal for me, just play college ball. … It’s definitely exciting.

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