It was all set up to be a perfect match. A dynamic player whose nickname is "Bright Lights" playing on the biggest stage of them all, Madison Square Garden. In a city that appreciates point guards like no other, Marcus LoVett was expected to step in and run the show for St. John's from the opening tip.
Unfortunately, that dream will have to be put on hold, both for LoVett and the St. John's faithful, as the lead guard from Fort Wayne, Indiana was declared a partial qualifier by the NCAA yesterday, delivering a crushing blow to the team just two days before opening the season against Wagner. Under the ruling LoVett is allowed to practice with the team but cannot play in any games.
"Marcus and his family have been patient throughout this lengthy process," Mullin said in a statement. "Marcus deserves to play and has done everything asked of him. Our staff is here to encourage Marcus as he continues to work hard on and off the court to be prepared to compete next season."
LoVett's absence leaves a gaping hole in the Red Storm's backcourt. With LoVett out, Italian guard Federico Mussini, who's more of an undersized two, will be pressed into starting at the point. It's a position the freshman's struggled with, registering more than double the amount of turnovers to assists during SJU's two exhibition games.
While St. John's has exhausted the appeals process, LoVett is likely to hire an attorney to challenge the ruling, according to reports. So while it's highly unlikely we'll see the slick southpaw in red and white this season, St. John's has a lot to look forward to when LoVett does suit up.
Fans got a tantalizing taste of LoVett's skills during the team's annual Red-White Scrimmage when he finished with a team-high 22 points to go with eight assists and five steals for Red.
"We are excited to welcome Marcus to our basketball family," Mullin said when he signed LoVett. "Marcus has an instinctive playmaking ability at a position we know is very important. I look forward to working with Marcus and developing his skills on and off the court that will help him reach his goals."
How He Got Here
A four-star, consensus top-25 point guard who was rated as high as No. 11 at his position in his class, LoVett was projected to be the twenty-third highest scorer on SI.com's college basketball freshmen scorers list. And there's no doubt LoVett can score the rock. Though a pass-first point guard, LoVett has shown a knack to get to the rim despite clocking in a 6-feet even, averaging approximately 25 points per game, 8 rebounds and 7 assists during his senior season.
He finished fourth in voting for Illinois' Mr. Basketball in 2015 while earning First Team All-State honors from the Chicago Tribune. LoVett led led Morgan Park to a third place finish at the state tournament in 2015 and set an Illinois Class 3A playoff record by scoring 45 points on 20-of-27 shooting in the semifinals.
Prior to attending Morgan Park LoVett attended high school in California. He lettered in two seasons at Providence High School in Burbank, Calif., where he averaged over 30 points per game. He spent his junior season at San Gabriel Academy in San Gabriel, Calif. and received the 2014 Wooden High School Player of the Year Award for CIFSS Division V after averaging approximately 22 points and six assists.
What He Brings To The (Practice) Table
We can only hope LoVett uses this year as an extended practice period to get better and acclimate himself to the college game without the pressure of carrying the team on his shoulders as a true freshman. Knowing his intense competitive streak, LoVett will use this lost year as fuel to come back with a vengeance and set the Big East on fire next season.