Marcus LoVett was as good as advertised, and worth the wait.
LoVett committed to St. John’s but the NCAA decided he needed a redshirt year; after sitting out, the guard from Indiana who played in California and Chicago exploded from the opening tip.
A slick passer with a flashy handle, LoVett managed to package those ball skills into a player who was very good at leading the team at times, and also good at putting points on the board. His 26 points against Providence were key in that high-scoring win, and his career-high 31 against Minnesota kept that game competitive.
He was one half of the second highest-scoring freshman duo in college hoops. LoVett was a solid passer, generated some steals, and even grabbed some rebounds.
For an encore, what can LoVett - who considered professional options - do?
On a team with a losing record, there are many ways he can improve.
By the numbers
Marcus LoVett, scoring rate stats, all games
LoVett, non-scoring stats, all games
Marcus LoVett, scoring rate stats, conference games
Marcus LoVett, non-scoring stats, conference play
Three Things About Marcus LoVett
LoVett as offensive driver. Shamorie Ponds earned the bigger accolades, but LoVett was the player with the best ability to get a quality shot off in league play. His shooting percentages were a hair below Federico Mussini’s, but LoVett was more able to generate shots off of the dribble.
For a professional future, LoVett needs to show that he can score - but at his size, he also needs to show that he can dish out assists at a high level and run a team. With Justin Simon on the floor, he will have more chances to show his catch-and-shoot abilities, but with the ball in his hands, he also needs to show that he can elevate the play of others on the floor.
Turnovers. The 6-foot point guard was decent at ball protection (six turnovers against Penn State and nine in two games against Xavier notwithstanding), but he can be better at holding on to the ball. Then again, how risk-averse should a dynamic scorer be? Risk comes with rewards; but maturity will hopefully improve his effectiveness.
Defensive impact. LoVett was solid at generating steals most of the season, but he recorded no steals his last three games (79 minutes on the floor). Steals do not equal great defense, but there is a point there about late-season impact. This season, both LoVett and Ponds need to become better on-ball defenders, steals or no. Their ability to disrupt perimeter players will lead to better overall defensive outcomes for the Johnnies.
Marcus LoVett will continue to be a strong player, a player to watch and admire. But a little more improvement on both ends could make the former top-100 player into a true impact performer - the kind that pulls St. John’s to a few wins when others are struggling.
Can he be a better defender? Can he continue to improve his play within the team concept, and continue to defer shots like a point guard in some moments and take the reins in others?
“I think we can be hungrier defensively; we need to get as many steals as we can,” said LoVett earlier this offseason. “And [we can get better by] just know[ing] when to score and when to pass. I feel like if we know how to do that and balance it out, we’ll be much better.”
The feel within a team is crucial; and Marcus LoVett can lead the players in that understanding with unselfish decision-making - and takeover scoring.