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Boys' basketball: Duane Cooper is out at Dominguez; Norvel Pelle to transfer

July 22, 2009 | 12:19 pm

Compton Dominguez High will not allow former USC and NBA player Duane Cooper to return to coach the Dons next season, Cooper and a school source told The Times today.

Cooper took over on a walk-on basis last year, replacing fired veteran coach Russell Otis when Otis was suspended and ultimately charged with criminal unwanted sexual advances on a player and commercial burglary.

A Dominguez source not authorized to speak publicly said Jordan Littlejohn, a teacher at Vanguard Middle School whose basketball coaching credentials beyond parks and recreation work are unknown, was introduced to the staff Tuesday as the new Dominguez coach.

Compton Unified School District authorities were not immediately available for comment.

"I just feel like the whole thing was a sham and not done professionally," Cooper said of the hiring process that saw him replaced after he led the Dons to a San Gabriel Valley League championship, the Southern Section semifinals and a berth in the CIF state playoffs.

Under Otis, Dominguez won six state titles and 10 Southern Section championships. "You want to do right by the kids, but issues on the periphery keep you from doing that. It's mind-boggling," Cooper said.

The coaching uncertainty has already led star player Keala King to transfer to Santa Ana Mater Dei. In Las Vegas, 6-foot-9 junior center Norvel Pelle told The Times today that he also plans to transfer from the school.

"For now, I'm still checked in, but I'll leave," Pelle said. He said he "hopefully" can join King at Mater Dei but is also considering a move to Compton High.

 "Staying there would be a risk," Pelle said, after drawing the attention of several NCAA coaches while playing for AAU team Team Odom today. Pelle said he agreed with many close to the Dominguez situation who said it appears the district is trying to minimize its elite basketball program after years of success and controversy under Otis' reign.

Pelle said he also believes sophomore point guard Chris Croom, whom Otis brought to Dominguez from Long Beach, will also transfer.

-- Lance Pugmire