Kevin Love – UCLA

kevin-love.jpg

Power Forward/Center

Along with O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love is the reason why the Pac-10 was one of the toughest college basketball conferences this year. And like Derrick Rose, he has UCLA in the hunt for a national title this year as well. If not for his late game heroics against Texas A&M last week, the Bruins would’ve been knocked out of the tournament after many people (including myself) had them going to the Final Four. Me being from the midwest and not being a fan of the Pac-10, UCLA or west coast basketball in general (never have been) I still have to give credit where credit is due; without him UCLA would’ve still been a good team this year, but certainly not Final Four or National Championship caliber good.

Strengths: At 6’10” and 250 lbs, he has the physical size and strength to compete in the NBA right now. He’s solid on the boards because he always has good position down low and he hustles for every offensive and defensive rebound. He’s also a very good low post defender who is good at challenging shots and gets a fair amount of blocks. He is also a very good perimeter shooter whose range extends out to the 3 point line. His greatest strength however is his passing ability, especially his outlet pass. I’ll go on record as saying he might be the best outlet passer I’ve ever seen. On a team like the Bruins that likes to get out and run he’s a perfect fit. His numbers this year were pretty solid: 17.3 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.3 bpg to go along with shooting 56% from the field, 77% from the line and 37% from deep. You can’t ask much more from a guy who this year is a Naismith Award finalist, first team All Pac-10, first team All Freshman Pac-10 and was named both the Freshman and Player of the Year in the conference.

Weaknesses: His lack of speed and overall athleticism will be the difference between him being a star at the next level or a solid role player. Body wise, he puts me in the mind of Bryant “Big Country” Reeves. But he is a much more skilled player and he certainly won’t be a bust like Reeves was. The fact that he’s such a smart player with a lot of intangibles may make up for his lack of overall athleticism, but that remains to be seen in a league where guys his same size are much quicker and faster.

Grade: A

Suggestion: Take the Cash

Summary: Physically, Kevin Love is ready for the league and a definite Lottery pick if he comes out this year. In terms of skills, I don’t see him getting much better than what he already is but if he improves his conditioning which in turn should help his athleticism he could end up being a very solid pro.

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