BELLEVUE, Wash. - Around these parts, O'Dea High School has a fairly storied reputation. It sent Clint Richardson to the NBA and, two years ago, led by Mitch Johnson, now a Stanford freshman point guard, the Irish won the Washington State 3A championship. This year, the Seattle school is led by the son of NBA coach Nate McMillan and is ranked No. 4 in a region that has risen in recent years to national prominence with a parade of elite-level college prospects.
But to Kevin Love, the No. 3 ranked 2007 prospect in the country by Scout.com, O'Dea High School was not just another team, it was not even worthy of his A game. Beware the opponent which is. He shrugged off the smaller Irish like Gulliver among the Lilliputians, lighting them up for 38 points and 19 rebounds during a 67-53 victory for Lake Oswego, the top-ranked team in Oregon, then declared his performance a little below standards.
Love's size, strength often sends
Difficult to imagine, as the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Love was ferocious, unmovable and undeterable in dismantling O'Dea. He got and held good position on the blocks and was explosive to the basket. He showed great hands and balance, gobbled rebounds at will and outletted with authority. Love, the son of former NBA player Stan Love, also showed good handle with the ball, got low and attacked his defenders' hips on dribble penetration, and exhibited good instincts on passes out of double teams.
Love showed some mid-range game, but not much from the perimeter, an aspect of his game that he has been honing. It was an aspect that just wasn't necessary against O'Dea.
And this is a player who describes himself as a "Big Twinkie kid" during the Oregon State 4A tournament last spring. He'd missed 14 games during the regular season with alignment problems in his right knee that were associated with a growth spurt, gained some weight and lost some conditioning. Self-described at "50 percent" during the state championship, Love still averaged 27 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists.
Love has worked on his athleticism
Love says doctors have proclaimed him past his knee problem and project him to grow another inch to inch and a half. Love says he also is working on his conditioning, explosiveness and quickness. Schoff says those qualities already have improved and will get even better as Love's "muscles mature."
The promise of growth, both physically and basketball-wise, makes Love one of the most hotly recruited prospects in his class. He says he is in the process of narrowing his list and declares his leaders to be Duke, North Carolina and UCLA. He added that he likely will go through another summer of select basketball before making his commitment.
"I want to sit down and talk it through with my family," Love said. "I do want to go through the summer again, focus on basketball and getting better."