Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be rolling out our profiles of several of the top expected prospects in the 2008 NBA Draft. Figuring that we’re not the only ones who’ve thought of this, we decided to enlist some help by asking several of the best school-specific bloggers in the land to give us the up-close-and-personal profile of the players they’ve spent all year watching. For example, we probably watched Kevin Love play 15 times this year, but we were limited by his games that were on national television and other competing games at the same time. These bloggers know these players – their strengths, their weaknesses, whether they become Black Mamba or channel C-Webb in the clutch, and what kind of team they would best fit with at the next level.
With that said, our next submission is from the most excellent UCLA blog, Gutty Little Bruins. Apparently Andy over there came off a female-induced hiatus to hook us up with some Bruins info . Here is their post on the strong-wristed Kevin Love.
Anyways, Rush The Court asked me to do a preview of Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook for the upcoming draft. They also asked me to make it accessible to non-UCLA folks, so if it sounds like I’m talking to you like you’re an idiot, its not deliberate. Anyways, here is Kevin Love. Enjoy.
To say Kevin Love was a bit hyped up out of high school is kinda like saying like Kirstie Alley is a bit overweight.
One fateful night, Former UCLA Assistant Kerry Keating gave UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland a call and told him he was watching Kevin Love play for the first time. He told him that the Kevin Love he was watching would easily start for UCLA. Howland thought that was pretty impossible.
After all, Love was just a high school freshman. Even as a frosh, coaches all over the country salivated at Kevin Love and would continue to do so until he finally chose a school. Last year, Roy Williams offered a scholarship to only one player. Yep…K-Love. Of course, we all know that Kevin Love ended up attending UCLA…but not before he was named the Gatorade National Male Athlete of the Year, the #1 player overall in the country by ESPN, and the #1 center in the country by both the Rivals and Scout recruiting networks. The guy had a lot of expectations…and the fact that he met, or exceeded these expectations is testament not only to his skill level, but to his character.
You don’t have to follow UCLA to know that Kevin Love is a pretty spectacular basketball player. You probably do have to follow UCLA to know how much he’s improved. Earlier in the season when games would go down to the wire, Howland would opt to put in Lorenzo Mata in over Love. While Love obviously had a superb offensive game, his defensive game needed work and was actually a primary reason why Love chose to go to UCLA. As the year went by, Howland stopped subbing in Mata when a defensive stop was needed, as Love began to show that he had made the necessary improvements. His footwork, focus, and anticipation all improved. Love was also extremely disciplined, with a knack for getting in his opponent’s face while not fouling. His blocks per game average also made a noticeable increase. Before the end of the year, he was giving future first round draft picks Brook and Robin Lopez fits on the defensive end (not to mention the offensive end).
People look at Kevin Love and for some reason, they like to emphasize his shortcomings. If he was 3 inches taller, he’d probably be the first pick of the draft (and as a center, not as power forward). A lot of people lament his supposed lack of athleticism. While those arguments have some merit, there is another pretty big deal that people outside UCLA don’t seem to understand. Yes, they know that Kevin Love’s offensive game rivals the polish of NBA veterans. Yes, they know that despite the fact Love played center at UCLA, he still could drain the 3 and nail his free throws, even achieving the second highest 3 pt. percentage of UCLA’s starters. And, of course, they know Kevin Love’s outlet passes cure cancer (props to whoever came up with that one).
Watching that video will add at least 5 years to your life. But do they know that Kevin Love absolutely works his ASS off?
Kevin Love will do whatever it takes to be as successful as possible at the next level. Just look at the dude try and grab a rebound and you’ll understand. If his coach suggests that Love should lose weight, just name the weight. If a trainer suggests that Love focus on improving a particular part of his body, Love will be in the weight room before the sentence is finished. If there is a particular part of his game that needs work, you might as well give him the keys because Love will be the first and last person on the court.
Kevin Love has a complete game. He’s got the post moves, the outside shot, the strength, the defense, and the effort to make it big in the NBA. That’s why his stock is soaring and some are projecting him to go in the top five. Trust me. Kevin Love will be around the league, barring injury, for quite a while.
Ah, I think I forgot one important thing here…
The fans absolutely LOVE him.