Q&A with Eastern Illinois commit James Love


By: Peter Hamot
Area Scout, Staff Writer

INF James Love (Joliet West, 2024) has firmly established himself as one of the top infielders in the state over the past year. Serving as a key contributor in the heart of West's talented lineup this past season, he only seemed to pick up steam as the year went on, carrying his strong play deep into the summer and eventually landing with Eastern Illinois. 

We recently had the opportunity to discuss the recruiting process with Love, what he was looking for out of his college experience and some other fun topics along the way.

Latest Scouting Report 

James Love

Class of 2024 / 3B

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2024
  • Primary Position: 3B
    Secondary Position: SS
  • High School: Joliet West
    State: IL
  • Summer Team: Top Tier South 17U Smith
  • Height: 6-1
    Weight: 192lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R

Scouting Report

8/10/22

INF James Love (Joliet West, 2024) proved why he’s a high-end prospect in the state’s 2024 class throughout the Illinois State Games. Love started his week by effortlessly producing low-90s exit velocities in BP on average, squaring his hardest ball up at 97.3 mph. He found the barrel in-game with authority, generating natural backspin and carry off the bat, while handling velocity with ease as well. Love impressed defensively as well, showcasing body control and lateral agility at third base on several occasions, especially on two particular slow rollers. Still uncommitted, Love is a name to know in the class and has his arrow pointed up coming off the event.


Videos

(8/9/22)

Our Q&A

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Love: My expectations going into the recruiting process were a bit high. I always knew I wanted to play baseball at the next level and I knew if I wanted to get there I had to work. One of the things I was looking for out of Eastern Illinois was the atmosphere, coaches and the biggest - academics. I was told the definition of being a great baseball player wasn’t just to be good on the field, but off it too.

P: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

L: Yes it did play a factor for me. My grandparents played a big part in that, specifically my grandma. She has leg cancer and can’t make it out to all the games she likes to come to. So picking Eastern was a fit for not just me, but my family too. Now my parents can come watch me whenever they want and they are always my biggest supporters.

P: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Where did the school you committed to first see you play?

L: The recruiting process really started to heat up a lot for me sophomore summer. I had a lot of colleges watch me play. It also helped that I was able to put up good numbers at PBR events and specifically the Illinois State Games. Eastern Illinois got to see me play in a PBR Ohio tournament in early August and later that month at the Illinois State Games.

P: What do you like most about the program you chose, and what were the key factors in making your decision?

L: liked that I am going to be able to have a chance to start freshman year and be a key piece in helping them win in the OVC. Also, Coach Anderson and Coach Francis made me feel like I was at home when I went to visit. They both have a lot of experience in this game to make me better and get me to that next level after college.

P: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

L: Other schools on my list were the University of Memphis, University of Illinois-Chicago and Valparaiso.

P: Who is the best player you have faced in your state? What about them makes for a tough opponent?

L: The best players I have faced in my state have to be 2022 Christian Mitchelle And 2023 Brady Louck, both from Plainfield East. Mitchelle is the best pitcher I have ever faced - he had grit and passion for baseball and he’s a great athlete. Brady louck I have had success against when I went 3-4 with a homer off him in a big series during high school. He has a great two seam fastball and a nasty changeup.

P: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college-caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

L: I was 13 when I started to realize I was pretty good, then when I was 14 I started to lift weights and see a big growth in my game. Then I just kept improving year after year and kept my goal in my sight and eventually was able to reach a huge goal I had set for myself.

P: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

L: Never be satisfied. If you put the work in you will see results. Might not be right away, but just keep working and it will pay off when you need it. Go to events, get in-front of people and show your skills. Just think someone else out there is always working harder. Don’t let them beat you.

P: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

L: Most memorable moment for me was freshman year. I got moved up to varsity and we beat Minooka in a sectional game, which is a huge win with them being a big rival for us.

P: Preview your high school team's season for us. How do you feel your team will be?

L: I think that we will be an underdog this year for Joliet West. We have a lot of key pieces that are huge for us right now. Last year we were good and I think this year some teams better watch out for the Tigers. Our pitching rotation will be deep with all of our bats returning from last year. I think we have a pretty good shot to make a long run.

P: How did the llinois State Games affect your recruitment process? Did you receive more attention following the event?

L: The Illinois State Games affected my recruiting process a lot because there were so many schools from all divisions there in attendance. I was lucky enough to be able to play at this event with a ton of kids I went up against all summer and create a lot of new relationships with players as well. Yes I did receive more attention from a couple of schools after this event.

P: If you could steal any tool or quality from another player in the state, what would it be and who would it be from?

L: I would steal 2024 Nate George’s speed, he’s so fast and also has a natural hit tool that is so good.

P: Who is the next talented young player to keep an eye on out of your high school or travel program?

L: Nate George is a freak athlete and deserves some more looks because he’s very good.

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