Monday, July 02, 2007

When Love Comes To Town

By Brian Dohn
LA Daily News

It is 341 days since Kevin Love committed to UCLA, and
another 99 days will pass before his collegiate career begins Nov. 9
against Portland State, but something significant is about to happen.

According to Love, the most anticipated and ballyhooed UCLA recruit
since Baron Davis a decade ago, he will arrive at UCLA by the end of
the weekend, and officially hoist upon his broad shoulders the lofty
expectations of delivering the school's first national title in 13

UCLA doesn't begin its fall quarter until late September, but the 6-foot-10 Love will get to work immediately.

"I'm going to be taking a couple of classes, working out with (strength
coach) Doc Kreis, and hitting the gym with our friend, big man guru Tom
Lubin," Love wrote in an e-mail. "I also hope to workout with Lorenzo
(Mata), James (Keefe) and some of the guys."

Love was the nation's top low-post recruit last year, and depending on
scouting services, battled with USC guard O.J. Mayo for status as the
top overall recruit in the nation.

Now, with UCLA's Arron Afflalo and USC's Nick Young in the NBA, Love
and Mayo could dual for the crown of Los Angeles' top college player,
although their personal rivalry isn't likely to have a trace of the bitterness that exists between the fan bases.

Despite growing up on opposite sides of the country, the duo have known
each other from the AAU circuit since seventh grade, when Mayo's team
defeated Love's squad in the finals of an AAU tournament in Disney
World. Their relationship was further enhanced when they roomed
together at several camps the past few years.

"O.J. is a great guy," Love wrote. "Most people don't understand the
pressure that he's grown up with ... and how well he's handled it. As I
always say, don't pass judgment or form an opinion of O.J. Mayo until
you meet him, and spend some time with him. O.J.'s a great team player,
and a superior talent.

"It's going to be great playing in the same city. That Bruin-Trojan
rivalry is going to go to another level. I can't wait to go
head-to-head with O.J. and Daniel Hackett. I think that both of them
will be great together, and I am rooting for them ... except when they
play us."

Bruins coach Ben Howland, whose coaching career began in 1981,
acknowledged Love is the highest-profile recruit he has landed. But
Love's transition from Lake Oswego (Ore.) High to the Sunset Strip
doesn't concern Howland because his expected-to-be star pupil has
family used to living in the spotlight.

Love's father, Stan, played four seasons in the NBA. His uncle, Mike,
was a founding member of the Beach Boys. There is also an agreement in
place for Kevin to wear Walt Hazzard's retired No. 42. Hazzard gave his
blessing for it.

"(Love) has been in it, the whole hype machine, for years," Howland
said. "I think he gets motivated. He's a very good player and he's
going to come in and have a big impact right away, more so than most
freshmen would."

Love was the Gatorade national player of the year after averaging 33.6
points and 17 rebounds as a senior, and Howland often compares Love's
ability to throw the outlet pass to former UCLA great Bill Walton.

Love is expected to battle and win the starting center spot from senior
Lorenzo Mata, but Howland said Love could wind up playing minutes at
power forward.

"He'll have a chance to do both because we're going to have to work to
try and play him and Lorenzo together some, for sure," Howland said.
"That's my plan. We'll see. Certain matchups will be more difficult
than others. If you're playing a team that plays a guard as a power
forward, that's a hard matchup."

[reprinted with permission]

(photo credit: SI)



At Jul 2, 2007, 1:22:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Diggin' the work ethic kid!!

At Jul 2, 2007, 4:37:00 AM, Anonymous clyde said...

This kid is clearly a three and done type player - uh hopefully.

At Jul 2, 2007, 11:13:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Clyde, my fingers are crossed you r right...most people say one or two years...Love, please don't leave until we win another title...


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