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Friday, January 27, 2012
Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week

By Harold Abend

Marcus LoVett Jr
Marcus LoVett Jr. (back) is leading a strong contigent of standout freshmen basketball players in Southern California.
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Marcus LoVett Jr. tries to be as normal a freshman as possible despite 31.7 per game scoring average

After what he’s done so far this season, to say Marcus LoVett Jr. from Providence of Burbank has exploded onto the scene would be a bit of an understatement.

In fact, the freshman from a very talented Los Angeles-area Class of 2015 has taken center stage among his peers.

Last week in a 73-66 victory over Campbell Hall of North Hollywood, the 5-foot-11 combo guard had a statement game.

LoVett finished with 45 points and five assists, out-dueling another top freshman, Aaron Holiday (27 points), the younger brother of 2008 Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year and current Philadelphia 76ers guard Jrue Holiday.

For that performance, plus a season that sees him leading the state in scoring, LoVett becomes one of only a handful of freshman to be named ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Week.

Although Marcus raised eyebrows on this past summer’s travel-ball circuit, and even though he had scored over 30 points in two of his first five games, the real eye-opener was in his sixth game after a 57-point outburst in an 85-74 overtime win on the road against St. Joseph of Santa Maria.

With LoVett scoring at a 31.7 per game clip after 25 points in each of two victories this week, the Division V Pioneers are off to a 19-4 start this season and very much in the mix for a trip to Sacramento in March for the state championships.

Teammates

An odd twist to this story involves LoVett’s teammate, Patrick Gonzales. Last year, it was Gonzales as a junior who averaged more than 35 points per game to lead the state in scoring average.

Now, with LoVett on board, and with only one rock to go around, the 6-foot-1 guard is still averaging a very solid 19.6 points per game but has obviously and graciously given up top billing to the younger player.

“When I got the job, I knew we had to upgrade the schedule to help Patrick get recruited. Then Marcus came along and what a blessing he’s been,” said Pioneers’ first-year coach Ernest Baskerville, a 1992 LACES (Los Angeles) alum that coached 12 years at his alma mater and recently assisted at College of the Canyons.

“I love my teammates,” LoVett told Cal-Hi Sports. “They’ve accepted me and been good teammates since day one when I came to practice.”

Goals

“My only personal goals are to be the best player and best teammate I can be. The other goals are the same as the team, to take it day-by-day and start off by winning league. Getting to state is the ultimate goal.”

Comparisons

It’s hard to avoid the comparisons, especially since the Pioneers’ road to a D5 state title game probably means facing Los Angeles Ribet Academy and its super freshman, 6-foot-4 guard Tyler Dorsey.

There are other comparisons that have involved NBA star Brandon Jennings, a former California freshman of the year who then went to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia for two years. He was named ESPNHS Mr. Basketball USA as the nation's top player in 2007-08.

“You can’t compare me to Brandon Jennings, he’s Brandon Jennings, I’m Marcus LoVett,” said Marcus in a humble tone.

Lovett wouldn’t bite on the comparison to Holiday, either.

“It was a regular game. I try not to get involved in comparisons, just go out and play my game.”

My best assets are…

“My ability to score, being a leader on the floor, and being an all-around player.”

Other sports

Another oddity in the story is Marcus is one of the few elite basketball players to run cross country, and he did well as a consistent top five finisher this past season.

“I won one race, too,” he said proudly.

Marcus’ Favorites

Subject in school: “It’s history but I’m not taking it this semester, so I’d say Hebrew Scriptures.”

Favorite team: “I don’t have a favorite team. I just like to watch NBA.”

Movie: “Love & Basketball.”

Music: “Rap. It gets me pumped up before games.”

Car: “Range Rover, all black with tinted windows.”

Place to go: “Hawaii. I like beaches. Miami, too.”

Family

Marcus LoVett Sr., a multi-sport trainer at Alta Loma Park in Altadena, played football and basketball growing up in the Midwest.

Siria Lovett works at Pasadena City College coaching cheer and working in the student affairs office.

“My mom told me she played basketball up to the eighth grade then went to cheer,” her son chuckled.

The oldest of four siblings has a brother and two sisters.

Zekiah is 12-years-old. “He’s an athlete, plays basketball and he definitely looks up to me, and gets to as many games as he can when he’s not playing.”

Jyah, an 8-year old, is already a budding athlete. “My dad says she’ll be a track star. She’s an all around athlete dad says is the best in the house.”

Nunu, a 4-year old does what most youngsters due at an athletic event. “She just enjoys coming to games because she likes to run around.”

Coach’s final comments

“Off the court, he’s a freshman that likes to have fun with his friends. On the court, he’s like a pro. Marcus is a blue-collar worker with a motor that’s unbelievable. The cross country helps his stamina. Against St. Joseph, he had the fresh legs in overtime.”

There certainly has been attention given to LoVett Jr. and the usual suspects are starting to show up, but no one is better suited to handle it than Baskerville.

In his day job, he works as a case manager for the Cochran Law Firm and prior to his passing away, Baskerville was the personal assistant for seven years to Johnny Cochran, the legendary defense attorney.

“With all the attention Marcus is getting, he’s still so humble and down to earth. He just wants to be part of the team.”

You can send AOW nominations to mark.tennis@espn.com or tweet them to us @CalHiSports. Don't forget to follow Harold Abend on Twitter: @HaroldAbend