Fairfax hires Reggie Morris Jr. as basketball coach

Reggie Morris Jr. is returning to high school basketball as head coach at Fairfax after serving as an assistant at Pepperdine.

Fairfax High announced on Friday that Reggie Morris Jr. has been hired to take over the school’s boys’ basketball program, ending a strange four-month odyssey that had the school offering the job to three different coaches and reversing course twice. Morris also will teach history/social studies at the school.

The bottom line is that Morris has been one of the best coaches in Southern California for years. He coached Russell Westbrook at Leuzinger, won a state championship at Redondo, was head coach at Culver City and St. Bernard, and served as an assistant at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. He’s a Westchester grad and the son of legendary former Manual Arts coach Reggie Morris.

His decision to leave Pepperdine after one season to return to high school basketball and take over for Steve Baik gives the Lions an experienced, highly regarded individual to keep the Lions relevant against the likes of Westchester, Birmingham and Taft in the City Section. Last season, Fairfax won the City Open Division championship.


But how Fairfax finally got to Morris has some in the basketball community scratching their heads.

In May, Fairfax offered the position to Taft coach Derrick Taylor, then withdrew the offer after Taylor struggled to make a final decision.

Then Fairfax named Harvard-Westlake assistant Steve Moore its head coach. Moore was at the Fairfax summer tournament greeting teams and coaches, working with players and preparing for the future. His positive, enthusiastic attitude drew universal praise.

But behind the scenes, there was a problem. He was never officially hired because LAUSD didn’t approve it. Something came up during his background check. Also the principal who chose Moore was no longer at Fairfax. Moore went all out to clear up what he called a “clerical issue.” He said he twice took flights to Sacramento. But by the end of July, the school started looking for another coach. Morris became the target, and it played out on social media.

Last month, Moore received a letter from LAUSD human resources telling him his record had been cleared and he could be hired. Except there was no longer a job opening.

So it wasn’t exactly the finest hour for everyone involved.

Moore leaves the experience as someone who will be a very good hire for a program looking for a head coach. Fairfax gets a coach who figures to build on the legacy of former coaches Harvey Kitani and Steve Baik.

Dior Johson, a guard who was originally supposed to enroll at Fairfax, has announced he will attend Mayfair and play with guard Josh Christopher.