Local boys' basketball teams ready to make mark on court
Providence, Burroughs, Bell-Jeff basketball have key returners, while Burbank lacks experience.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Providence's sophomore guard Marcus LoVett Jr. averaged 31.7 points per game last season, the best in the nation among freshmen according to MaxPreps.com. (Photo by Mike Mullen)
The Bulldogs lost 11 seniors to graduation after last season and had just two juniors on the roster. Unfortunately, both those juniors have transferred. That leaves Burbank with no returning starters and just one player has limited varsity experience after being brought up from junior varsity last season.
To make matters worse, Jerry DeLaurie took over the Bulldogs program in late August and missed the entire summer with the team.
“I have taken over programs before, but this is the most challenging job I have had in my 17 years of coaching,” said DeLaurie, who had coaching stints with the L.A. Baptist girls' program and the Pasadena Marshall Fundamental boys' and Blair boys' and girls' programs. “We have really no varsity experience on the team. The players are new and they really don’t know what to expect on the varsity level.”
Unlike Burbank, and the other local teams — Burroughs, Providence and Burroughs — have their share of experienced returning players.
Here is a closer look at how the teams are shaping up.
The Pioneers (26-6, 8-0 in league) return the most talented and decorated player in the area last season in sophomore Marcus LoVett Jr.
LoVett was named the CIF Southern Section Division V-A Player of the Year, Liberty League Player of the Year and 2012 All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year. The sharp-shooting guard was also named to the MaxPreps.com Freshman All-American Team and earned Division V All-State first-team honors by MaxPreps.com.
LoVett averaged 31.7 points a game, which was best in the nation among freshmen according to MaxPreps.com. In addition, he poured in 1,035 points — breaking the school record — and put up 35.8 points a game in the playoffs.
“Marcus has looked good in practice,” Providence Coach Ernest Baskerville said. “He played with his travel-ball team and worked out with his dad basically all summer.”
LoVett will be one of three key returners for the Pioneers. The other two are junior guard Christian Ware-Berry, who Baskerville said has improved substantially from last season, and junior guard Jonathan Ly.
“Having three returning starters, and all three of those starters being guards, helps a lot,” Baskerville said. “Having Christian, Marcus and John coming back is a big plus.”
Behind LoVett, Providence captured its first Liberty League championship in 12 years.
The Pioneers enjoyed a historic postseason run, advancing past the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. Unfortunately for Providence, its first-ever appearance in a CIF championship game ended with a 65-62 overtime loss to league foe Holy Martyrs.
Providence also advanced to state competition for the first time, losing to Mission Prep, 68-62, in the opening round of the Southern California Regionals of the CIF State Division Championships.
The Pioneers were dealt a blow recently when Melik Anderson, a 6-foot-8 sophomore who transferred after playing as a freshman last season at Alemany, was ruled ineligible by the CIF Southern Section.
Last season at Alemany, Anderson averaged 2.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and a block a game. In the 2011-12 season, Alemany (33-4) won a Mission League, a CIF Southern Section Division III-A and a Division III state championship. In the state title game, Alemany defeated Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco, 71-67.
“When you think you have a 6-8 kid who’s athletic and can shoot the ball and handle the ball, you have a freight train running through your head,” Baskerville said. “And when you find out he’s not going to play, it’s definitely disappointing.”