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Cotton Commits to Long Beach

Basketball: Schea, one of the nation's top prep players, decides early to join his brother on 49ers.


LONG BEACH — Schea Cotton, a senior forward at Bellflower St. John Bosco High who is among the most coveted players of this season's college basketball recruiting class, committed Tuesday to Long Beach State, where his brother James is a standout guard.

"I was looking at a lot of great schools and it was a real tough decision," Cotton said. "But I wanted to stay close to home and Long Beach just seemed like the best place, the right place, for me. Now I can keep eating my mama's cooking."

Cotton said he will sign a letter of intent with the 49ers during the November early signing period. Cotton, who plans to take the SAT Oct. 12, has averaged more than 22 points and 10 rebounds in his high school career.

Many programs were recruiting the muscular 6-foot-5, 210-pound Cotton. National champion runner-up Syracuse, Connecticut and Kansas were among the schools scheduling home visits with the Cottons in September. Pepperdine also was also high on Cotton's list because of his fondness for Coach Lorenzo Romar, the respected former UCLA assistant.

"The final two choices in California were Long Beach and Pepperdine," said Cotton's mother, Gaynell. "Coach Romar is such a classy guy, we knew Schea could have learned a lot from him."

Cotton, a two-year starter at Mater Dei who led the Monarchs to the 1994-95 state Division I title, said his strong ties to the 49ers' coaching staff was a factor in his decision. Lead assistant coach Clyde Vaughan is a friend of the family and first-year assistant Tom Lewis coached Cotton as a sophomore at Mater Dei.

"Coach Vaughan has been through a lot with us and I know him real well," Cotton said. "The year I worked with coach Lewis was great. And I really warmed up quickly to [first-year head] Coach Wayne Morgan."

James Cotton, a junior, led the Big West Conference in scoring last season.

"I'm very happy," James said of his brother's decision. "I'm going to look out for him and so are all of the coaches."

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from discussing recruiting.

Cotton has been on recruiters' wish lists since he was an eighth-grader. Before his sophomore season at Mater Dei he was the subject of a Sports Illustrated profile.

After transferring to St. John Bosco for his junior year, Cotton missed most of the basketball season because of injuries. However, that didn't diminish interest in him.

Bob Gibbons, the North Carolina-based scout, recently listed Cotton as the nation's No. 3 prospect. Other scouts list Cotton between Nos. 5 and 10.

"He's definitely a major-college prospect," Gibbons said. "He's a personable young man and he's got a lot of charisma. But he's had so much early hype and so many expectations on him for so long."

Cotton is eager to start fulfilling those expectations.

"I just want to get started," he said. "I'm ready to prove myself."

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