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Duane Cooper won't return as Dominguez boys' basketball coach

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

A top Dons player says he intends to transfer; a new coach is said to have been introduced.

July 23, 2009|Lance Pugmire

HENDERSON, NEV. — Duane Cooper is out as boys' basketball coach at Compton Dominguez High, and star center Norvel Pelle may have played his last game as a Don.

Hours after learning the Compton Unified School District let go of Cooper, a former USC and NBA player, Pelle said he intended to transfer.

"For now, I'm still checked in, but I'll leave," Pelle said here Wednesday at a club tournament. He said he "hopefully" would join former Dominguez teammate Keala King, last season's San Gabriel Valley League MVP, at Santa Ana Mater Dei but also is considering a move to Compton High.

A school source not authorized to speak publicly said that Jordan Littlejohn, a teacher at Compton's Vanguard middle school, was introduced to the staff Tuesday as Dominguez's new coach. Littlejohn has been a parks and recreation coach, the source said, but beyond that his credentials are not known.

School district officials were not immediately available for comment.

Cooper led Dominguez on an interim basis last year, replacing veteran Coach Russell Otis when Otis was suspended and ultimately charged with unwanted sexual advances on a player and commercial burglary.

Under Otis, Dominguez won six state championships and 10 Southern Section titles.

Otis has since been fired, but Cooper said he wasn't retained because he was not a full-time district employee who possessed a teaching credential. The Dons won a league title and advanced to a Southern Section division semifinal in his one season as coach.

"You want to do right by the kids, but issues on the periphery keep you from doing that," Cooper said. "It's mind-boggling."

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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