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The Preps : After Burnout in Backwoods, He Heads West

January 27, 1987|Scott Howard-Cooper

High school basketball in West Virginia, huh? A bunch of kids hoping to grow up to be like Jerry West? Must be real small-time.

Think again.

The pressures can get plenty big-time. In fact, Rick Cook says he came to Southern California to escape them.

He learned real quickly about expectations when, in his first season as head coach, his Logan High team, which won the state large-division championship the year before, started out 2-9.

"You just kind of stayed home a lot," Cook recalled the other day. "You didn't go out much."

Logan bounced back and finished 14-11 that season, then 18-5 the next. By 1985-86, though, he decided that he'd had enough, despite a 19-4 season. Even while associated with a very successful program, one that won three state titles in his seven years as an assistant, he figured there must be a way to get more out of coaching high school basketball.

He landed at Workman High of City of Industry, after being passed over at San Bernardino San Gorgonio and Hacienda Heights Wilson. Workman, although not a title contender, is 6-10 overall and 3-4 in the Valle Vista League going into tonight's game at West Covina and is vastly improved after going 1-19 last season.

Just as important, though, the pressures stayed behind.

"Here, high school athletics is more in perspective than back East," Cook said. "Even though I agree with that perspective, I do miss the competition back there.

"I'm going through an adjustment period. What I'm doing is winding down. There's a lot more emphasis on winning back East than here. I don't preach winning and losing as much as building character and working hard all the time. That's a good theory, but when you're back home and you lose, that theory doesn't mean anything.

"The pressures of East Coast basketball are much more than here, as far as high schools go, in places like Kentucky and Indiana that are known as hotbeds for basketball."

But Workman is starting to get a name for itself in basketball, thanks to Keely Brooks, a 5-foot 9 1/2-inch senior guard who is leading the Southern Section in scoring. He began play last week averaging 37 points a game--far ahead of Jason Matthews of Santa Monica St. Monica, 27.2; Brian Friefield of Oak Park, 26.9, and Steve Ward of Calabasas, 26.4--and then scored 26 in Friday's loss to Covina Northview.

In addition, the Lobos have senior forward Richard Zamora at 14.8 and senior Delbert Santos, only 5-8, leading the offense as the point guard.

UCLA, which had a good football recruiting season last year in Texas, signing Charles Arbuckle, Brian Jones and Reggie Moore, is going back for seconds.

High on the list for 1987 is wide receiver Johnny Walker of San Antonio Holmes, rated by the Houston Chronicle as the state's top prospect. He came to Los Angeles on Jan. 9, has also been to Texas A&M, went to Arizona State last weekend and plans to go to LSU and Texas before the Feb. 11 signing date.

Walker, however, is not the lone star the Bruins have been impressed with in Texas. Others:

--Linebacker James Malone of Richardson Pearce will visit this weekend after having been to Arizona State, Stanford, Notre Dame and, last weekend, Iowa.

--Offensive lineman Chad McMillan of Katy came to Los Angeles the weekend of Jan. 17 and said he had "a great visit. I really liked it." He has also been to Nebraska, Duke and, last weekend, Notre Dame, and finishes off with Texas and an unofficial trip to Baylor.

--Offensive lineman Keith Alex, 6-5 and 250, of Beaumont Central has been to Miami of Florida, UCLA and Oklahoma, and will visit Texas A&M and LSU.

"A lot of people down here have always loved California," Walker said. "The opportunity to play in Los Angeles and for UCLA is great. Plus, (the trip) is free, so you can go see whatever you'd like."

Oklahoma, Arizona State and Notre Dame figure to have the biggest out-of-state impact in Texas, along with the Bruins. Purdue and Colorado seem to have made the biggest in-roads.

Purdue now has former Texas Coach Fred Akers, and Colorado played in the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston. The Buffaloes also recruited well in Southern California last year after playing in the Freedom Bowl.

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