Elite big man loves the Cats

If you haven't heard of Kevin Love, you will. He is arguably the second best big man in high school. Not in his class, but in all of high school. The Portland native is a true low post big man who has everyone talking.

Love is polished. Very few players have the low post presence and moves that Love has, especially sophomores in high school. He isn't a finished product, but he could start for most college teams next year.

"His footwork is probably the best of any big man in the country regardless of class," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Eric Bossi. "It's fun to watch him operate on the low blocks because he's made sure that he's going to score an easy basket two passes before the ball even gets to him and he always presents the passer with a big target and an open passing lane."

Love was sidelined for part of the season and is playing 10-15 pounds heavier than he would like, but has really turned heads at the two recruiting events he has played in so far this year.

"I'm progressing well since I had injuries early in the season," said Love. "I'm still growing. I'm still like a little kid, I'm only 16, I am only a sophomore. I've got two years left in high school so I am feeling good about it."

Right now Love is rated as the number two power forward prospect in the 2007 class and is easily a five-star recruit. Every time he plays he draws a crowd of elite college coaches and recruiting analysts. So far he is really handling the attention.

"It puts pressure on you, but sometimes it's fun," Love admitted. "I think it is good for me because I keep working. People notice my game improving every time they see me. That's a good thing for me, I want to keep working harder and harder to get better."

While many kids say they don't like the hype and then collect all of the press clippings, Love admits that it can be a fun thing being considered the best.

"I like it, I think everybody likes the attention when they're young," Love said. "Sometimes it can get to be a little too much, but it's fun. It makes you want to work harder and prove yourself against the best players."

As good as he has played, the natural assumption is that he is looking towards the NBA. He has admitted in the past that he would at least consider the draft if he was a Lottery pick, but now he is looking more to college. It's not that he's 100% sold on the college life, but more a product of the 20-year rule the NBA would like to pass.

"I talked to John Lucas and he says it's already passed," Love said. "College is perfect with me and my mother would love to see me go there. My dad would love to see me do whatever I like, but my mom would love to see me go to college."

There are a lot of schools that would be thrilled to have a chance to have Love in their program. Right now a few schools have a slight lead for Love's services.

"I'd say the ones that are jumping out at me big time right now are the three that are recruiting me the hardest," Love said. "I'd say Arizona, NC (North Carolina) and Duke. I really love those schools. I love North Carolina and Duke a lot. I talked to Lute Olson a few days ago. He's really recruiting me hard and I'd love to go there too. Whatever happens, happens."

UNC may not be the clear leader, but he does like the fact that they won the national championship. It's not just the fact that Roy Williams finally won the big one, but the Tarheels also won Love bragging rights.

"I actually had UNC winning it all, so I won my pool at school," Love claimed. "Coach (Steve) Robinson called me from North Carolina and I told thanks for helping me win."

Love claims that he talks to the Cats and Heels a few times a week. He has also spoken with former Wildcat Salim Stoudamire. It turns out that Stoudamire and Love are practically neighbors in Lake Oswego, OR. The Wildcat guard was back in his hometown and ran into the prized recruit.

Although three lead for his services, Kansas, UCLA, Washington and Oregon are still in the mix. The Ducks will always be a factor due to the fact that his father played basketball for the school.

"It's always going to be there because my dad went there," Love explained. "They've got a great tradition. Ernie Kent, they've got a great coach there. Scott Duncan and all of the assistants. It's close to home but that's not really an issue for me."

If location is not a factor, what is?

"Probably tradition," Love said was a key ingredient. "All the schools that are on there have a lot. They have to have good academics, and stuff like that. That's what I'd say the most, and they've got to have a good program."

Chemistry was also something he stressed as a key ingredient in the school he will eventually choose.

"I mean we've got to have good chemistry. I think that's one of the biggest things. This year in Lake Oswego High School we had a great team and we went to the State Championship and we had a great team, and that's what I look for most out of all the guys and all the coaches that we have great chemistry, and all come together and we can play. When you meet the team, you are looking to have a good time and get along with all the players more than anything else."

As the interview wound down he added a final aspect of his destination.

"Oh yeah, I want to see how they use their big man, and how me, and the guys get along," Love concluded. "I'm a real friendly guy so it's not hard to get along with a lot of the guys."

Matt Messina contributed to this story.

E-mail Brad at bradallis@msn.com


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