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PAIGE A. LEECH

After Summer of Uncertainty, Arenas Must Win Over Grant Teammates

September 04, 1998|PAIGE A. LEECH

So Gilbert Arenas, arguably the region's top college basketball prospect, decided this week to stay at Grant High. . . .

After months of telling reporters--and anyone else who asked--how he didn't like playing for a Lancer team that played in low-profile off-season leagues and tournaments, Arenas has decided to stay at Grant. . . .

After applying--and being admitted--to the math-science magnet program at Sylmar, Arenas has decided to stay at Grant. . . .

After being banished from Grant's summer team by Coach Howie Levine because he played with Sylmar, Arenas has decided to stay at Grant. . . .

After acknowledging this week that he would rather play for Sylmar next season, Arenas has decided to stay at Grant. . . .

With all that has been said and done this summer, can Arenas really get back in the good graces of coaches and teammates at Grant?

"I think that if he shows that he's going to be a team player, it will be easy," Levine said.

Levine, who has not spoken with Arenas in more than a month, said Arenas' father told him weeks ago that Arenas would not transfer.

Levine said the rumors of Arenas' transfer did not disrupt the team's chemistry or continuity this summer.

"As far as our team is concerned, we had a good summer," Levine said. "The guys played well. We saw a lot of good things out of the team. We have a good bunch of guys."

Stay tuned.

*

Math-science magnet administrators at Sylmar were angered this week by the comments of Gil Arenas Sr., who told The Times his decision to keep his son at Grant was based on his fear that a magnet curriculum might lack core classes required to qualify for a Division I college.

In a letter faxed to The Times, Principal Linda Calvo wrote that Sylmar's magnet students "are required to complete more than the minimum core curricular classes for entrance to four-year universities."

She ended the letter with "I can wholeheartedly assure you that he need not have worried about his child's rigorous academic preparation at Sylmar High School Math Science Technology Magnet."

Calvo said magnet students receive more guidance than regular students.

"One of the really great things about being in this magnet program--or any other magnet program in the district--is that the counselor ratio is so much lower," Calvo said.

Calvo said Arenas would have been one of about 350 students under the guidance of one counselor, as opposed to being one of 500 or 600 as a regular student.

"Because the academic course work is so rigorous in the magnet program, the counselor sits down with each magnet student frequently to make sure he is on course," Calvo said.

*

Where do you see yourself three, four, five years from now?

That was among the most important questions asked by Lancaster High officials who interviewed coaching candidates.

The answers were of particular interest because officials have already grown tired of the revolving door at Lancaster, the region's newest high school. Lancaster opened in 1995 and begins its first year with seniors this month.

Nearly 50% of Lancaster's varsity coaching positions have been filled with new coaches for the 1998-99 school year.

The coaching exodus has given Reid Wagner, vice principal in charge of athletics, a hefty workload. But he appears to be a gamer.

"Sometimes I really relish the mass confusion so I can put it all back together," Wagner said.

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