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THE PREPS : Cotton Will Leave Mater Dei : High school: Highly touted sophomore has begun the application process to attend Bellflower St. John Bosco.


For the fourth time in six years, the Cotton family is on the move.

Schea Cotton, one of the most highly touted high school basketball players in the nation, has left Mater Dei and begun the application process to attend Bellflower St. John Bosco, Brave Athletic Director Jack Hastert confirmed Thursday.

"It was my parents' decision and I just have to go with the flow," said Schea Cotton, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound sophomore. "I really had no say-so. It's just something we had to do as a family."

The Cottons are moving for business reasons, said Schea's mother, Gaynell Cotton. She said the family-owned business, J & S Land Clearing Co., is conducting the majority of its business in the earthquake-damaged Northridge area, and the family plans to move back to the East San Pedro area.

The Cottons moved from San Pedro to Cerritos in 1990. Schea's older brother James played at Artesia High as a sophomore in 1990-91, but then the family moved back to San Pedro. James Cotton, now a redshirt sophomore at Long Beach State, played at St. John Bosco from 1991 to 1993.

Schea played as a freshman in 1993 at St. John Bosco, but he transferred to Mater Dei one month into the season and the family moved to Huntington Beach.

"If it wasn't for our business, Schea would have stayed at Mater Dei," Gaynell Cotton said. "There were no hard feelings with the coaches or administration."

Rumors about Cotton's departure from Mater Dei had been swirling for some time. As recently as Monday, Gaynell Cotton told The Times that Schea was still attending Mater Dei and planned to remain there.

But now, Cotton is returning to where he started his prep career.

"Schea's family thought (that transferring to) Mater Dei would be the best thing for him at the time," said Brian Breslin, St. John Bosco basketball coach. "But there never were any hard feelings. There weren't any then and there are none now."

Cotton averaged 20 points and seven rebounds as a freshman and the Monarchs won the 1994 Southern Section Division I-A championship and advanced to the Southern California regional final.

As a sophomore, Cotton averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds, helping the Monarchs win the Division I-A section and Division I State titles this year. It was the third State title in 13 years for Mater Dei under Coach Gary McKnight.

McKnight, who did not return phone calls Thursday, told The Times in 1993: "I have never seen a kid that does the things (Schea) does."

Cotton was named section Division I-A player of the year this season and first-team All-Southern Section Division I and first-team Times all-county in his sophomore and freshman seasons.

"I had some great years at Mater Dei," Cotton said. "I talked to Coach McKnight and few of the guys and I told them thanks for everything they taught me. There are no hard feelings."

* Times staff writers Jason Reid and Bob Rohwer contributed to this story.

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