At 16, Marcus LoVett Jr. of Burbank Providence has become one of the best entertainers in Los Angeles. He does things with a basketball that some adults can only dream of accomplishing.
His fadeaway jump shots, behind-the-back dribbles and immense scoring skills leave fans with smiles as they depart the gym. Every game and sometimes every possession, he tries to give them a show.
“They enjoy the game,” he said. “You’ve got to entertain them, give them what they want.”
He watches video of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, trying to see how they play to incorporate their moves in his game. He’s 5 feet 11 and averaging 36.7 points a game. Last season, he averaged 31.7 as a freshman. This month, he scored 47 points against North Hollywood Campbell Hall and 48 against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
“Marcus is an amazing talent,” Coach Ernest Baskerville said.
He was the Southern Section Division 5A player of the year last season. And don’t think that because he plays for a small school he can’t compete against big-time players. No matter the opponent, he routinely receives double teams and even is triple-teamed.
That’s an easy challenge for LoVett.
“My dad sometimes puts six players on me, and I have to go through them,” he said.
Marcus Sr., a former NAIA basketball player for Oklahoma City, trains his son and leaves nothing to chance.
“I practice every single shot I take in the game,” the younger LoVett said.
And what a repertoire he has. It might be the most impressive part of his game — his ability to change his shot to find a variety of ways to score when being covered. He shoots left-handed, and defenders trying to prevent him from scoring from three-point range have to be aware of his skills at driving the lane too.
Despite his high scoring average, he’s hardly a gunner. In fact, Baskerville calls him “the most unselfish player I’ve ever coached.”
“His basketball IQ is so high,” he said. “He understands how to read pick-and-rolls, double teams. He has such a tremendous midrange game. Most people can either shoot the three or get to the basket. He has that 15- to 18-foot shot that kids don’t have these days that he can knock down with ease.”
Against Notre Dame, he made 17 of 21 shots.
He considers himself a family person, someone who likes to put Christmas decorations on the tree and must set a good example for his 13-year-old brother and sisters, ages 9 and 5.
“I’m the oldest,” he said. “I try to help them out. That’s my job.”
But basketball is clearly in his future, and he understands that academics will open doors for him to college so he’ll be able to follow his dream.
“School is first,” he said. “In order to play basketball, you have to do the work for it.”
He missed several games to start the season after his ear became infected following an insect bite. “I’m healthy,” he said.
Fans who can’t afford to attend an NBA game might want to head out to a Providence game, because LoVett is ready to entertain.
“I try my best,” he said.