Lists of high school freshmen tend to be limited, and frequently those players who surface first continue to thrive as they progress through the prep ranks.
In the case of point guard Marcus LoVett, that phenomenon both held true and did not. He made his Scout debut back in 2011, showcasing excellent speed and scoring ability for a young floor general.
He toured briefly with the Mac Irvin Fire on the 2013 EYBL circuit, averaging seven points and three assists in five contests. It was around last summer that he began to incite ire from some local critics, however, who wanted to see more frequent basketball plays and less flash.
Still, he certainly caught my attention — in a positive way — playing with the Las Vegas Prospects at this past April's Jayhawk Invitational, where he once again illustrated why he'd established himself as a high-major talent so early in the process.
LoVett's propensity for flash is understandable: He can make plays with the ball in his hands that few of his contemporaries can match. A 5-11 southpaw with broad shoulders and a low center of gravity, LoVett boasts top-notch speed in the open floor.
Though clearly short, he squirts through defenders thanks to a truly superb ability to change direction. It's the stuff of playground excellence, the kind of thing that yesterday's hardtop legends showcased to earn reverence from urban admirers. LoVett makes that plays that don't appear to be makeable, a talent that, if harnessed properly, could enable him to shine for many years.
|Quick hands and feet make LoVett tough in transition|
Meanwhile, though you might be thinking he's a non-shooter — as so many jitterbug ballhandlers are — he confidently strokes jump shots past the three-point stripe. He's inconsistent, mind you, but shooting definitely does not qualify as a weakness.
LoVett's passing skills are high-major quality as well, particularly in the open court. He's by far at his best running the break, where his creatively is most valuable.
His scoring arsenal also includes runners and odd bankers intended to thwart helpside shotblockers, and frequently they work. And though he certainly must hone his technique and concentration, in April LoVett shone on the defensive side as well. He spreads out wide and utilizes his quick feet to hound opponents' dribbles.
Tangibly, LoVett possesses far more strengths than weaknesses. He could stand to improve his mid-range game and become a fully consistent perimeter marksman, but those aren't the areas where his critics feast.
Always, he has drawn attacks for being showman first, competitor second. LoVett's decision-making can be extremely poor, and his shot selection at times has spiraled out of control. Though possessing all the mandatory talent to run the show, he can appear detached from his point guard duties and instead begins to call his own number too frequently.
Thus, striking a balance will be a key for him going forward. Game management isn't something college coaches take lightly, and those who never warmed to his game have cited that deficiency as a primary issue.
Academic factors have come into play in the past, so that's another area he needs to convince everyone he can shore up prior to college.
Due to the juxtaposition between talent and production, aggression and wildness, LoVett poses a rankings and evaluation challenge. The issue is not what he is now; it's what can he become?
Players with the red flags I identified above can settle into future obscurity, but on other occasions they'll mature and blossom into bona fide stars. It's impossible to know how LoVett's story will unfurl, but clearly he has the talent to advance to very high levels of basketball.