The area has seen some outstanding boys' basketball players come through the city's high schools over the decades.
In the mid-1960s, a lanky sharp-shooting Lynn Shackelford made a name for himself at Burroughs High. The CIF Southern Section Player of the Year for the Indians in 1965, Shackelford played on three UCLA championship teams under legendary Coach John Wooden. His three-year varsity record was 88-2, as he helped the Bruins set a program record of 47 straight wins.
In the 1990s, Ruben Douglas was a standout player at Bellarmine-Jefferson. He was the Burbank Leader Male Athlete of the Year, All-CIF Division IV Player of the Year and All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year in 1998. As a senior in 1997-98, Douglas averaged 35.1 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals a game. He ranked as the No. 1 scorer in California that year with 1,073 points and No. 10 all-time in state history with 2,578 points. As a senior in 2003 at the University of New Mexico, Douglas led all NCAA Division I men's players, averaging 28 points a game.
As good as Shackelford and Douglas were in high school, neither enjoyed more success during their freshman season than Marcus LoVett Jr. during the 2011-12 campaign for Providence.
LoVett put up monster numbers, broke several Pioneers school records, paced Providence to its first-ever CIF Southern Section championship game, led the state in scoring and earned national recognition.
For his efforts, LoVett has been named the 2011-12 Burbank Leader Male Athlete of the Year.
He earned his share of awards locally, including being named CIF Southern Section Division V-A Player of the Year, Liberty League Player of the Year and 2012 All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year.
But LoVett's accolades were not limited to Southern California, as the talented guard was named to the MaxPreps.com Freshman All-American Team. He also earned Division V All-State first-team honors by MaxPreps.com.
"The awards that Marcus gets are a testament to the hard work that he puts in and the dedication that he has shown every day," said Providence Coach Earnest Baskerville, who completed his first season with the Pioneers. "He works at being the best player on the floor at all times, no matter what team he's playing against or what other players are on the floor."
Baskerville said although the All-American award is nice recognition for the school, LoVett should bask in the accomplishment on a personal level as well.
"It's always nice for the school," he said. "But it's nice for the individual to be recognized and to get credit for all that he did. It's great what he did for our program this season, but I want him to be celebrated for all the time and effort that he's put in. He did so many things that made our team great.
"His freshman class was amazing this year. To be able to win something like this and to be recognized among players across the nation is amazing."
LoVett not only enjoyed individual success in his first year with the Pioneers, but he also helped the program thrive and make history in the playoffs.
He averaged 31.7 points a game, which was best in the nation among freshmen according to MaxPreps.com. In addition, he poured in 1,035 points last season — breaking a school record — and put up 35.8 points a game in the playoffs.
What might be the most remarkable aspect of LoVett's game was his consistency as a scorer throughout the season. He never scored fewer than 20 points in all of team's 32 games, tallying 30 or more points 17 times and hitting the 40-point mark six times — twice in the postseason. His season high was a 57-point performance in tournament game against Santa Maria St. Joseph.
He also averaged nearly five rebounds and more than three assists and three steals a contest.
Behind LoVett, Providence (26-6) captured its first Liberty League championship in 12 years.
In addition, the Pioneers also enjoyed a historic postseason run, advancing past the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. Unfortunately for Providence, its first-ever appearance in a CIF championship game ended with a 65-62 Division IV-A overtime loss to league foe Holy Martyrs.
Providence also advanced to state competition for the first time, losing to Mission Prep, 68-62, in the opening round of the Southern California Regionals of the CIF State Division IV Championships.
"Marcus is just a blue-collar worker who goes out there and works every game," Baskerville said. "Aside from his stats, he [did] just an amazing job [last] season being humble and level-headed about all the attention he's gotten. He did everything within our offense. I think getting player of the year caps off a great season for him."
Teammate Christian Ware-Berry said it is LoVett's drive that sets him apart from other players.
"He's one of the hardest workers I've ever seen," he said. "We work out together all the time and he just gives it 100% all the time, every time. He's all-out hustle. It's just crazy some of the things he can do on the court, and everything that he's done he's earned it."