All is Fair in Love and Basketball

Truthfully, it's probably a little early to be talking about Class of 2007
prospects. But Kevin Love from Lake Oswego High School in Oregon is no
ordinary Class of 2007 prospect. Even though he's a freshman, the 6-foot-8,
240-pound post is already getting serious college looks, and will likely be one
of the top big men in his class nationally. But first things first, Love has
four years of high school basketball to play. And he made his high school
debut on Tuesday night.
Love started making a name for himself in the Pacific Northwest from a very
young age. The son of former NBA player Stan Love, the younger Love was taught
the fundamentals of post play, and has continued to develop those skills as
he's gotten older. As he's grown, Love has played in the younger age brackets
of AAU, and this past year, was the key player on the Portland Elite United
Salad squad that finished second in the country in the 14U tournament in
Although he's always been more physically dominating for his age group, Love
has also proven himself against older players all his life as well. In
addition to his stint with United Salad this past summer, Love also played with
a younger Oregon ICE team that played in the adidas Big Time Shootout in Las
Vegas. Love more than held his own - in fact, he turned heads with his play at
the event.
With this background, you might be able to see why there was a lot of
excitement and hype over his first game in a high school uniform. And Love
delivered, giving all those on hand a showing of what he's capable of doing.
Statistically against Canby High School, Love tallied 24 points, 14 rebounds,
two blocked shots, and two assists, doing his damage down in the paint. While
even against older players Love displayed a physical advantage, he showed off a
variety of efficient post moves, displaying fundamental footwork and effective
positioning, as well as a soft touch around the basket. While he did not come
out to the perimeter much, he did show off a nice-looking stroke from the free
throw line, where he hit 5-of-7 shots. Love grabbed every rebound in his area,
and on defense, made an early block that intimidated the opposition for the
majority of the game. But what makes Love truly special is his ability to
throw precision outlet passes. At least twice during the game, Love grabbed a
defensive rebound and found an open teammate streaking to the basket on the
other end for an easy hoop.
"For a freshman, I think he showed everybody that he's in a whole different
caliber," said Lake Oswego head coach Mark Shoff. "And once we start
transitioning better and getting out and running, you're going to start seeing
more of those outlets. He gets the ball and he wants to get it out. The way
he drops the ball down the court, the guy catches it and he doesn't really even
have to dribble. You just don't see that very often."
In sum, Love is an incredibly skilled player - for any age, much less a
freshman. And he's only going to continue growing with his game - as well as
grow physically; the projection is that Love could reach seven-feet to match
his already 7-foot-1 inch wingspan. Already this season, Love has been Working
with Lake Oswego assistant coach Steve Johnson - the former NBA and Oregon
State star big man - and added a hook shot to his repertoire. Obviously there
are areas where Love will need to improve, such developing more of his outside
game as well as improving his speed on defense. But the sky seems to be the
limit for his development - and what's scary is that he's plenty good already.
"He as a freshman has a lot of skills that a lot of guys that went pro out of
high school still don't have," said United Salad head coach Trent Gay. "You
can look at (Eddy) Curry, you can look at Tyson Chandler - when they went into
the pros, there's a lot of things that they had to work in order to become big
men. Kevin naturally is a big man."
Believe it or not, Love is already receiving interest from colleges even this
early in the game. Oregon has shown great interest, which is no surprise
considering Stan Love is one of Oregon's all-time greats and is friends with
Ducks head coach Ernie Kent to boot. Love has made unofficial trips to the
Eugene campus, and this season attended Oregon's upset win over Michigan in
football. But other high-major programs such as Duke, Stanford, Kentucky,
UCLA, and Michigan have also sent letters. Of course, it's a long way off, but
Love may already have a favorite.
"I've always liked Duke," said Love. "Mike Krzyzewski - he's just a great
But some others may not be far behind.
"I like UCLA and Ben Howland," said Love. "I got to take an unofficial visit
there this summer. I'm really good friends with Taylor King and we went down
there and worked out with the pros and all the players from UCLA. We played
with some of the Clippers - it was fun."
After that unofficial visit, King ended up making a very early commitment to
Howland's program. Would Love consider doing the same thing - making a pledge
so early on if he were given the opportunity?
"I want to leave my options open," said Love. "Taylor's set; that's where he
lives, that's where all his family is. But I can't really say yet. I'm still
a freshman. I've got until my senior year to sign a letter-of-intent."
And Love still has four years to go to enjoy his days in high school. So for
the time being, he's starting by concentrating on this season.
"I think we have a good shot at winning the state title if we come together,"
said Love. "We need to win the league first and take it game by game."
While any serious news in his recruitment will be a ways off, be sure to keep
an ear to the ground for Kevin Love. certainly will. Love's
next national event will be at the Les Schwab Invitational from December 18-21
at the University of Portland, where he will have the opportunity to match up
against some of the Class of 2004's top big men in D.J. White, Roy Hibbert,
Davis Nwankwo, and Maarty Leunen. will have full coverage.