Ed Waters is filling the shoes of legendary Crenshaw coach Willie West. Under Waters, Crenshaw has won five consecutive Coliseum League titles.
Cougars earn No. 3 seed in basketball pairings
When Crenshaw High School named its second basketball coach in school history in 2007, few knew what to expect following the legendary Willie West, Los Angeles City Section Championships and eight State crowns.
The Cougars settled on a relatively unknown in Ed Waters, son of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who had played under West when he attended Crenshaw.
Crenshaw has yet to completely return to its lofty status it enjoyed under the guidance of West, who nurtured the talent of such players as Kevin Ollie (U Conn. Head Coach), former UCLA and NBA star Marques Johnson, John Williams, Marcus Williams (not related), each of whom enjoyed success in the NBA, Franklin Rhodes, Kris Johnson (Marques’ son) and countless others, because Waters had to take a different approach.
When African Americans began moving outward to such places as the Inland Empire and Antelope Valley, it depleted the talent base for the remaining traditional Black schools such as Crenshaw and Dorsey.
Many thought that Crenshaw would no longer be relevant in high school basketball after the storied career of West, but nobody dared tell Waters and if they did he certainly was not listening.
Since being hired to replace the legendary West, Waters has led Crenshaw to five consecutive Coliseum League championships and the past two have been done by winning 24 consecutive league games, completing a rare feat of going undefeated in league.
Following the 2012 season he was rewarded by being name to coach the City Section team at the prestigious Collision All Star game.
Waters would be the first to tell you the league is not nearly as competitive as it once was, but winning five crowns in a row is an accomplishment that has not only kept the Cougars competitive, but also relevant. Last year they made it to the City Section semifinals, losing at eventual City champion Taft, who defeated Dorsey for the title.
“I believe in the kids and I believe in the school and we just come to work and continue to get better,” Waters told the Sentinel after the Cougars captured their second 12-0 league campaign with a rout of View Park last Friday at Crenshaw.
The stands were packed with cheering students and former alumni just like days of old, but make no mistake about it, this is Ed Waters’ team and basketball program.
Waters and each of his coaches donned royal blue blazers with a shirt and tie, something that is uncommon among prep coaches.
His team, led by seniors Mica Winn and 6’5, 200 pound Andre Edwards, pressed and scored from long range and short, and last Saturday it was announced that Crenshaw had earned a No. 3 seed in the City Section playoffs where it will open at home on Thursday against Eagle Rock.
“We appreciate all of the support that we can get from the community and our alumni and we are committed to doing this the right way. Yeah we want to win, but we also want to do it with dignity,” Waters said.
His Cougars are 17-8 and will have to get past No. 2 seed El Camino Real to reach the championship game where it could potentially meet No. 1 seed Westchester.
The match-up against ECR is a better bit for the run and gun Cougars that would have problems with Westchester’s size, but a tough one to be sure. El Camino Real is ranked above Westchester in most local rankings.
A couple of years ago, Crenshaw lost two of the most gifted players in the nation when brothers Isaac and Daniel Hamilton decided to transfer to CIF Southern Section power St. John Bosco. Isaac now a senior was named to the McDonalds All American game for this year and Daniel, a junior, is being high sought after for next year.
They both attended the game last Friday and watched Crenshaw do what it had done when they were there, win basketball games under Waters.
Even without the Hamilton’s, the Cougars keep rolling along because there is one constant that will be there and his name is Ed. Waters. He’s the guy who put on a pair of shoes worn by a legend and they fit.