Henricksen: Marcus LoVett a whole lot more than hype

SHARE Henricksen: Marcus LoVett a whole lot more than hype

Come to Chicago, play in the Chicago Public League.

Put on a few dazzling displays, turn some heads, get people talking and watch your rep rise. Pretty simple recipe to follow.

Colleague Michael O’Brien penned an article earlier this week titled: “Is Marcus LoVett Chicago’s next great guard?”

Here’s the answer: Yes.

Already with a catchy new nickname, “Bright Lights,” the Marcus LoVett hype is going to quickly shift into another gear once we get out of these rather hidden fall open gyms and, pardon the pun, the lights go on. It will be deserved and will only get bigger after taking in LoVett’s dynamic play this past week.

When a player can do that –– impress quickly and emphatically with no reservations –– in just a couple weeks of open gyms and one fall shootout, there is a reason to get excited. But that’s the type of basketball talent LoVett possesses, and it’s why the 5-11 senior is the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s No. 2 prospect in Illinois in the Class of 2015.

It’s not as if LoVett is an unknown. He was ranked extremely high as a young high school player. He averaged just over 30 points a game as a freshman at Providence of Burbank in California, including games of 57 and 45 points.

He’s received plenty of high-major interest over the past three years, ran with the Mac Irvin Fire at one point, and he’s currently a top 100 prospect nationally, ranked No. 88 by Scout and No. 90 by Rivals (ridiculously low, by the way).

But due to a few high school transfers and playing minimally on the club circuit and all-star camps this past year, it’s been a case of “out of sight, out of mind” for LoVett. And in this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately AAU basketball world, “out of sight, out of mind” is a hype and rankings killer.

“That’s of no concern to me,” says LoVett of the national rankings that have dropped him from a top 20 player in his class to nearly falling out of the top 100. “I can’t worry about rankings. The only thing I care about is getting in the gym every day, working hard and elevating my game. That’s what is important to me. That’s why I came to Chicago.”

Enter Morgan Park.

Everyone that has taken in a Morgan Park open gym has come away spewing superlatives, from myself to college coaches to Mustangs head coach Nick Irvin. LoVett continued to dazzle this weekend at the Back to School Jam at Whitney Young. He was in control, competed and played unselfishly.

“He might be the best point guard in the country,” says Irvin. “He could be one of the best ever to come out of Chicago, and he should be a McDonald’s All-American.”

LoVett, an enormously talented and gifted point guard with plenty of flair, is a super talent, arguably the best guard out of the Chicago Public League since Derrick Rose. There are things he does with the basketball that genuinely defies description for a high school point guard.

He has a coolness and brings an electricity at the same time as a showman who plays like a tornado. But you quickly realize he’s in full control and capable, that it’s just the speed of the game he plays at and style he plays with –– naturally.

For the little bit older basketball fan it’s easy to see a lot of Kenny Anderson’s game and repertoire in LoVett –– the Archbishop Molloy Kenny Anderson, who went on to become a star at Georgia Tech and played 15 years in the NBA.

There is a better balance and poise to his game than people have given him credit for, with uncanny court vision and passing instincts to go with that never-knowing-what-will-happen-next intrigue he brings to the court. With his head always up surveying the court, LoVett constantly finds open teammates in transition and in the halfcourt.

With a clean release on his left-handed jumper, a fully developed pull-up game and polished floater, LoVett brings a mixed and effective bag offensively.

When asked what he wants to prove now that he’s made the move to Chicago, LoVett keeps it pretty simple. He is ready to show there is plenty of substance to his game.

“I want to show that I can play, show that I’m the best, become a better all-around player and impact the game at both ends of the floor,” says LoVett. “I want to show I’m a complete player and doing everything a coach asks and expects out of his point guard.”

He’s found a place in Morgan Park and a coach in Irvin that appears to be a match made in heaven.

“With Marcus, we now have a player who can just take over a game and win it for you,” says Nick Irvin.

But it’s been awhile since LoVett has had a chance to take over games. Having been out of the club circuit and all-star camp loop this past spring and summer, not only did LoVett’s ranking drop, but so did the recruiting interest. That’s changing quick.

Kansas offered LoVett this past week and plenty of other high-major programs will as well, whether it be before the November signing period or during the season if he chooses to play out his senior year.

“I’m definitely wide open recruiting wise,” says LoVett. “I’m open to anyone who’s interested in me and is interested in having me on their campus, getting to know me.”

Ernest Baskerville, LoVett’s coach at Providence of Burbank, told ESPNHS California this during his freshman year there: “Marcus is a blue-collar worker with a motor that’s unbelievable. 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.”

Now he’s the catalyst of a two-time defending state championship team.

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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