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Good Sports: Love's Letters


By Paul Feinberg '85

Published Oct 1, 2007 8:00 AM

Kevin Love prefers e-mail. Naturally, an incoming freshman would rather exchange e-mails than sit for an interview. In fact, it's surprising that the Oregon native didn't ask to text-message the questions. It's just that this particular first-year Bruin — the 2007 Gatorade High School Male Athlete of the Year and arguably the most important basketball recruit of the Ben Howland era — seems so old school.

On the court, Love lacks flash, has no hops, does not cross-over, 360, tomahawk, windmill or lob. He does, however, score with a variety of traditional post moves, set picks, move his feet on defense, box out and pass like a point guard. He throws elbows and outlet passes. He's learned the game's history, too, referencing John Wooden, Swen Nater, Red Auerbach, John Havlicek and Walt Hazzard '78. (Love will wear Walt's retired #42 — with what the freshman describes as "Mr. Hazzard's gracious blessing.")

Love's arrival on campus for summer school and workouts unofficially begins the 2007-'08 basketball season. The Bruins come off consecutive Final Four appearances, and Love (along with fellow freshman Chace Stanback) is expected to mitigate the loss of Arron Afflalo and help hang another championship banner in Pauley.

Asked why he chose to attend UCLA in 25 words or less, Love lists his teammates' names, along with "campus, academics, atmosphere, winning, tradition and California girls." Asked if he's more tired of answering questions about Bill Walton '74 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar '69 or — talk about California Girls — the Beach Boys (singer Mike Love is Kevin's uncle), he admits it's Kareem and Bill. "How can you respond when they compare you to the two best college basketball players ever?"

The comparisons continue, but Love seems ready. "My role will be different than [in high school]," he says. "Now I get to play with great scorers like Josh [Shipp] and Darren [Collison] and rebounders like Luc [Mbah a Moute] and Lorenzo [Mata]. We will look out for each other. My goal is to win the NCAA championship."

Well, that's one of his goals. His final e-mail concludes, old-school style: "I am also looking forward to getting to know the many girls on the UCLA campus. Girls, keep me in mind, please."