Saturday, January 21, 2012
Fabulous freshmen take center stage
By Sean Ceglinsky
WOODLAND HILLS -- And so it begins.
There was plenty of hype surrounding the showdown between Burbank Providence's Marcus LoVett Jr. and North Hollywood Campbell Hall's Aaron Holiday on Saturday night in the marquee game of the War on the Floor Tournament at Taft High.
Turns out, the advanced billing was worthy. Both of the highly-touted freshman played well, seemingly beyond their collective years at times. Each showed glimpses of immense potential and performed with the experience of a seasoned upperclassmen.
In the end, however, LoVett Jr. got the better of the overall exchange, particularly in the fourth quarter. He finished with game-high 45 points to guide the Pioneers to a 73-66 nonleague victory. Not to be outdone, Holiday had 27 points for the Vikings.
“Those two are not normal ninth-graders,'' Campbell Hall coach Steve Wachs said. “Everyone came to see what Aaron and Marcus had to offer and I don't think either one of them disappointed the fans. It's too bad someone had to lose this game tonight.''
The fact LoVett Jr. led Providence (17-4) in scoring should not come as a major surprise. He ranks among the state leaders with 31.6 points per game. Can't forget to mention his 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3.0 steals on a nightly basis for the Pioneers.
Keep this in mind, he is still just 15 years old.
“I was looking forward to going up against Aaron and showing what I can do. I think he wanted to the same,'' LoVett Jr. said. “There's a lot of talk about both of us now. I'm not worried about it. I just worry about what happens on the court, not off the court.''
Holiday, on the other hand, was essentially born and bred to play for Campbell Hall (7-14). He grew up around the program, after all, and watched older brothers Justin and Jrue star for the Vikings a few short years ago. Both siblings moved on to play college ball in the Pac-12 Conference and Jrue is now a starter for the Philadelphia 76ers.
It appears as if the younger Holiday could be heading down the same path. Similar to LoVett Jr, he is 15 years old. Holiday averages 24.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He also contributes two assists and pair of steals a night for the Vikings.
“Everything is happening fast, I think that me and Marcus are starting to get a lot of attention,'' Holiday said. “It doesn't bother me, I kind of like it.''
It appeared as if both youngsters were comfortable Saturday night at the War on the Floor Tournament. And knowing how the hype-machine typically works, all signs point to LoVett Jr. and Holiday sharing the spotlight down the road. For years to come, in fact.
The future is indeed bright for both talented freshmen.
"We've had some good players at the War on the Floor Tournament over the years, but I can't remember two ninth-graders turning out to be the stars like Marcus LoVett Jr. and Aaron Holiday were tonight,'' tournament director Jack Pollon said. "They packed the stands and stole the show. Sky's the limit for those two.''
Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.