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Paez Selected for Cleveland Basketball Job

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Marc Paez, an assistant from St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey, will be given the chance to replace Bob Braswell as head basketball coach at Cleveland High, Cleveland Principal Ida Mae Windham said Friday.

Paez said Friday evening that he had not been officially offered the job and had no other comment pending notification. But Windham, who said that she was unable throughout the day to reach Paez to make an official offer, said that the job was his to refuse.

“Marc has the skill as a basketball coach, but he’s also credentialed--with teaching experience in English--and should be able to fit into the entire school program,” Windham said.

Paez, 29, who emerged from a list of 12 interviewees, would be expected to take over Braswell’s teaching load of three periods of English and one course in both student government and physical education, Windham said.

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Paez would replace Braswell--who resigned two weeks ago to become an assistant at Cal State Long Beach--as coach of what has been the Valley’s most successful program in the 1980s. He has coached the junior varsity at St. Bernard for the past seven seasons and also has coached in the Southern California Summer Pro League at Loyola Marymount.

Last summer, Paez was the general manager of the pro league, which includes a potpourri of players from the National Basketball Assn., Europe, the Continental Basketball Assn. as well as free agents. He served as a coach in the league for two summers but has said that what he really desired was a high school program of his own.

“I’ve wanted to be a high school head coach for a long time,” Paez, a graduate of St. Bernard and UCLA, said earlier this week. “To leave St. Bernard, it would take an awfully good position, and Cleveland is one of the best programs in the state.”

For the past four years, Paez has been dean of students at St. Bernard, a parochial school of 1,250 students. Additionally, he taught one period of English for the past five years.

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Cleveland was 75-19 in Braswell’s tenure and often was ranked among the state’s best teams.

Braswell, who contacted Paez two weeks ago to notify him that the position would soon be vacant, urged Windham to hire Paez.

“Certainly from the aspect of the sport, his input was important,” Windham said of Braswell. “I trust his judgment and know that his recommendation would have the kids’ interests in mind.”

Paez also fits into the school’s demographic picture.

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Windham said that filling the position with a minority was a consideration because the Los Angeles Unified School District requires certain levels of minority representation on school faculties. Paez, who is part Filipino and American Indian, would replace Braswell, who is black.

Cleveland has several key returning players. Bobby McRae will return to start at forward, and among reserves, center-forward Trenton Cornelius and guards Eddie Hill and Andre Chevalier also will be back from last season’s team, which finished 21-3. In the past two years alone, Cleveland has sent seven players to the Division I ranks.

Windham said that although it probably will take several weeks to process the official paper work with the district, Paez will be given the green light to coach the Cavaliers in summer league play immediately.

On Wednesday, Cleveland will open play in the Slam-N-Jam high school tournament against Hawthorne High at 3 p.m. at Carson High.

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The tournament concludes next Saturday.


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