After scoring 32 points against Evans Jan. 23 and 16 points against Edgewater Jan. 26, Love sits at No. 4 in Panthers' history with 1,324 career points.
Even before he entered the Dr. Phillips High basketball program, Daniel Love understood its tradition.
As a middle-schooler, Love, his father, and his younger brother, Dante, would come to watch the Panthers.
“That’s the main reason why I wanted to come to this school,” says the standout senior guard and Mercer signee. “When I was young, I watched the guards that came through — Chris Warren, Pookie Powell, Shane Larkin. I knew what I was coming into and I tried to follow the tradition.”
“When I was young, I watched the guards that came through — Chris Warren, Pookie Powell, Shane Larkin. I knew what I was coming into and I tried to follow the tradition.”
And did he ever.
Celebrating his Senior Night game, Love dropped 32 points for Dr. Phillips (12-7) Jan. 23 in a 73-58 victory over Evans.
Those 32 points carried Love over the 1,300-points threshold for his career as a Panther, bring him to 1,308. The dynamic guard added 16 points Jan. 26 in a loss to Edgewater, which brings him to 1,324 for his career — setting him firmly within the top-five scorers in the history of the program at Dr. Phillips.
"When you start talking about the guys that he’s on a list with now … you’re talking about elite air," head coach Dan Batchelor said. "You’re talking about being in elite company."
Entering the Panthers' game Jan. 30 at Jones, Love is just 37 points behind Mike Shipp's 1,361 career points — the fourth-best career mark for a Panther. Ahead of Shipp are Pookie Powell (1,539), Shane Larkin (1,633) and Chris Warren (1,784).
Larkin, of course, is currently a guard for the Boston Celtics. Warren played for Ole Miss in college and is currently playing professionally in Turkey. Powell is currently average 18.6 points per game for LaSalle University and Shipp — a star for the Panthers in the 1990s — is a godfather of sorts to the success of the program at Dr. Phillips, after which he played for Florida A&M.
All of which is to say that Love's entrance into such company is no small feat — though Batchelor believes the talented guard still does not get the credit he deserves.
"I still think that Daniel is the most undervalued, underrated player in the entire area," Batchelor said.
Not that it bothers Love much. Though he acknowledges that he plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, the senior guard — who is averaging 21.2 points per game this winter — says he tries not to get too caught up in it.
“I don’t really worry about that — I just come every game to play," Love said.
It's good for the Panthers that Love does come to play, too.
More than just the team's leading scorer, he is the leader for a program that is in its first season with Batchelor as head coach, after longtime coach Anthony Long retired.
"Our energy goes as Daniel’s energy goes," Batchelor said. "When he is fully engaged, it reverberates through the entire team — and then I call on him to score."
"I still think that Daniel is the most undervalued, underrated player in the entire area."
Love has just five regular season games left to possibly approach Powell's mark of 1,539 points. He currently is 215 points off, which means his ability to approach the threshold will largely depend on how deep into the postseason the Panthers go.
Should Dr. Phillips reach the final of their district tournament — and by way of that, at least one regional playoff game — Love would have eight more games to score 215 points.
That would mean an average of 26.9 points per game, which is tall task — but certainly not out of the question.