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King High names George Ward head boys’ basketball coach

George Ward  DPS/PSL PHOTO

George Ward

Detroit Public School League

George Ward, who guided Southeastern High to the 2011 Detroit Public School League championship and two Class A state finalist berths in five seasons as boys’ basketball head coach, has been named to the same position at Martin Luther King High School.

“I feel good,’’ Ward said just hours after accepting the Crusaders’ job. “I’m the eternal optimist. It’s a new challenge, but it’s going to be good. The people at 3200 (East) Lafayette, I think they’ll be pleased.”

Ward, 43, said he plans to bring his coaching staff from Southeastern to his new job at King. The decision to leave 3030 Fairview, where he was Southeastern’s dean of students for freshmen and sophomores, boiled down to trying to get a handle on his future, he said.

“There was too much uncertainty there,’’ he said of the school, which belongs to the Gov. Rick Snyder-created Educational Achievement Authority. “I didn’t have any real firm commitment as to what my future looks like there. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not trying to get a great college job. I’m really here serving for the kids in Detroit. This (Southeastern) community has been like family. But, I didn’t want to look up in July and August and be without a job.”

King athletic director Barry Cannon said Ward, who replaces Pierre Brooks, is expected to join the school’s faculty in a still to be determined capacity.

“George Ward is a proven winner,’’ Cannon said. “We really like his disciplinary emphasis with the young men and also his high rate of kids who go on to play in college. We feel blessed to have him become a Crusader.” King High is a Detroit public school.

The Crusaders won the PSL boys’ basketball championship two years ago, but was bounced in the first round of this year’s Big D tournament by Cass Tech. Meanwhile, Ward’s Jungaleers advanced to the PSL championship game this past season, losing 57-56 to defending champion Pershing. The Jungaleers also claimed two league East Division titles in Ward’s tenure and reached the Class A state finals in 2011 and 2013.

Ward foresees the potential for immediate and constant success at King, where student enrollment is among the highest of schools in the league.

“A lot of talent walks through those doors every year,” he said. “King is a school with a great football program and a great athletic program. Ultimately we’re looking to make the basketball program really special. We’re looking to take it to national prominence. That’s the objective.”

There hasn’t been any word from Southeastern on its timetable to name a new coach.

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