They came by the dozens in UCLA hats, jerseys, T-shirts and jackets to watch a high school basketball game at Pauley Pavilion Friday night. They were die-hard Bruins fans determined to offer a warm welcome and get their first glimpse at UCLA's future center, Kevin Love.
What they saw was a 6-foot-9 1/2 senior from Lake Oswego, Ore., who could play the starring role in any highlight film demonstrating the fundamentals of basketball. From making 10 consecutive free throws to blocking nine shots, from grabbing 13 rebounds to scoring 25 points, Love was a formidable force in Lake Oswego's 58-37 victory over Compton Centennial before 1,500 in the second game of the Verbum Dei Paul Pierce Real Run Winter Classic.
Love, who signed a letter of intent with UCLA last month, played in front of his future coach, Ben Howland, who sat in the bleachers opposite the Lake Oswego bench.
"It's something you teach, but it takes years and years," Howland said of Love's skills. "He's got great fundamentals that start at an early age."
Lake Oswego (4-0) opened an 11-0 lead without Love scoring a point to start the game.
Love got his biggest reaction from fans with his blocked shots. On one occasion, he swatted away two consecutive shots by the Apaches (7-2). Overall, he had four assists, five steals and five turnovers.
Love's unselfishness was repeatedly on display. He made passes to teammates when double-teamed and also showed off his bulletlike full-court outlet pass after a rebound.
At a minimum, he ought to help UCLA's free-throw shooting percentage next season, based on his making 14 of 15 free throws Friday.
"It was great," Love said of playing for the first time at Pauley Pavilion. "There's a lot of history in this gym, and it's going to be an honor to play here."
Centennial was playing its second game of the day. In the afternoon, the Apaches defeated Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 83-66, in the semifinals of the Huntington Beach Ocean View tournament.
Centennial Coach Rod Palmer said of Love: "He's strong, he's athletic, he's skilled. He doesn't run his mouth. He's going to be good."
Love is expected to attend UCLA's game against Oakland (Mich.) today at Pauley Pavilion while his teammates head for a day at Disneyland.
And why is Love turning down a day with Mickey Mouse?
"I don't fit on the rides," he said.
He'll be back in Southern California on Feb. 2 when Lake Oswego plays Santa Ana Mater Dei as part of the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei.