Posted: 2:34 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
By Sam Vecenie
So I'll be honest. I've seen very little game action of Marc Loving outside of highlight videos and recruiting websites. He seems like your typical high school top-75 skinny 6'8" forward prospect to me: solid shooter, smooth game, not ready to contribute. It's also worth mentioning that he comes from an excellent high school program in Saint John's, who have produced players like Brian Roberts of the Hornets and past NCAA players like B.J. Raymond of Xavier, Zach Hillesland of Notre Dame, and Jay Larranaga of Bowling Green (and now a Celtics assistant). Luckily, one of the editors at SB Nation's Cavs site, Fear The Sword -- David Zavac -- has seen Loving around 10 times live throughout his high school career because he attended Saint John's and still lives in the Toledo area. David was nice enough to give give a breakdown of his game.
HIgh School Stats: 21.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 blocks per game in his senior season.
Because he's going to do a far better job of articulating his game than I will, here is Zavac's take on Loving:
The biggest, best skill that he has is his shooting. He has great form, he repeats it every time, and it's a quick release. Given he is 6'8, it's pretty impressive.
Loving also is a very good passer. In his junior and senior years, St. John's would give the ball to him in the high post and let him make decisions for himself. He could face up, he could find cutters, he could take two bounces and kick it out to spot up shooters. He was taller than everyone, so his court vision was really good.
His drawback that everyone likes to talk about is that he plays "passive" or isn't aggressive. I don't think this is fair at all. He doesn't show passion on the court, and he doesn't try to take over games. But he does stay within the offense, and when you look at the scorebook he scored 22 points. But the kernel of truth to this, that I think might end up being a real issue, is that he is a good athlete, but he isn't a great athlete. Defensively, he often played center field looking for steals and protecting the basket at SJJ. Eventually, I think he'll be able to guard small forwards and power forwards, but not immediately.
One would think that Loving won't play much this season. Coach Thad Matta tends to ride his starters, and Loving seems to overlap with both LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson. Ohio State might get a chance to see what Loving can do early in the season with their weak non-conference schedule, and if he shoots well and others play poorly he MIGHT be able to carve a small role as a floor stretcher. Remember, this team does have to find someone who, along with an increase in Amir Williams' minutes, will replace Evan Ravenel's 17 minutes per game. Ultimately, we'll probably have to wait until 2014-15 to see what the future holds with him, but there is an outside chance he sees minutes as the season progresses.
As mentioned previously, his best case scenario for this season probably involves shooting well in his short stints on the floor in blowouts early in the season and becoming a backup floor stretcher that allows Aaron Craft to drive more often and make things happen. As for his career, the player that David mentioned to me was Michigan State's Raymar Morgan in that he'll be able to stretch the floor and keep the ball moving on offense. We might have to wait until his junior year before he makes a large impact, but his game seems tailor made for college as a smaller 4 that shoots the ball and makes great passes.
His worst case scenario for this season is probably a good case for the team, as it involves Ross and Thompson starring in their newfound roles and resigning Loving to the bench. For his career, maybe Loving never puts on enough weight to adequately become a solid defensive presence and becomes only a floor stretching 4, while new recruits usurp him over the next two years. But let's just hope that doesn't happen.