There are a few guys in the country that every school in the country watch once and offer a scholarship on the spot. There are even fewer guys that can play just five minutes and walk away with a free ride. Kevin Love, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward from Lake Oswego (Ore.) High School, is one of those guys. And he's just
Love was the anchor for the Portland Legends as the Rose City team fought through pool play and a tough road in the tournament at the Kingwood Classic. The No. 3 ranked player in the class of 2007 dominated the blocks and cleaned the glass all weekend long in Houston en route to the tournament title, a first for the Portland program.
His play was stalled due to calf cramps and kept him out of the title game against the SYF Players from Indiana. Love's counterpart, Kyle Singler, had a chance to live up to his top five rating.
The duo were the talk of Texas with coaches, fans, talent evaluators and even the D.J. that blasted music at Westfield High School. "There goes those two kids that are rated in the top five," other players would whisper when the Oregonians would walk by. Love said the talk doesn't bother him.
"I really don't think about it. I'm just trying to be a kid. I'm only in the 10th grade and I know Kyle isn't thinking about that, too," Love said. "Some kids may be thinking about that and I'm sure some of the eyes will turn to us but I don't really think about it that much. It's just the way we play and if people want to say we are two of the top five kids in the country then that's cool."
Love has certainly proved he's amongst the nation's best over the last three tournaments. He was without Singler at the Boo Williams tournament but that didn't stop him from single-handily carrying Portland against the Tywon Lawson-Kevin Durant led DC Blue Devils. Love went for 31 points against the two five-star prospects.
In Las Vegas, Love and Singler worked through the field and solidified themselves as not only the best in the West but also nationally. And then, of course, their play in Houston cemented their spots amongst the elite. Love says he's still trying to improve regardless of the wins and attention.
"I still feel I have to prove myself a lot against the best and at the same time retain myself as a player and get better," he said. "I gotta go out there and play well every game and show different aspects of what I can do in the game.
"I believe I can step out and hit some threes or pump fake and then put it on the floor to the basket. My face up game from 15 to 18 feet is coming along. I'm trying to be the best all-around player I can be."
College coaches know how good Love is. Coaches from UCLA, Oregon State and Arizona came by to see him last week. Arizona head coach Lute Olson will be coming to Lake Oswego on Wednesday to see him. The legendary Pac-10 coach was a staple on the sidelines when Portland played at the Kingwood.
UCLA head coach Ben Howland stayed to the very end to watch Love. North Carolina coach Roy Williams had numerous well-wishers congratulating him on a national championship as Love played his games.
"North Carolina and Arizona are my top two schools right now," Love said.
That comes as a bit of a surprise to some only because Love has been quoted numerous times about his affection for the Duke Blue Devils. In fact, he's even called the ACC school was his "dream school." How does he feel about them now?
"They still are my dream school," Love said. "They are still recruiting me a bit. I talk to coach Wojo a little bit on the phone but I'd say North Carolina and Arizona are recruiting me the hardest right now. That's why I'd say they are my leaders."
It's still early in the recruiting process. And picking a future home isn't a high priority for the kid that hasn't even played his final two years of high school basketball. But rest assured that he'll have his pick on where he plays his college ball. Everyone will take him. Just watch him for five minutes.