When the Muir High boys’ basketball team returns from its near month-long summer break, a new chapter in Mustangs basketball will begin.
That’s because Muir High 1992 alumnus Simaine Stewart confirmed he’s taken over the program as a walk-on coach and will hold practice sometime this week with his squad.
Stewart replaces fellow alumnus Gamal Smalley, who resigned in March shortly after his team forfeited a Pacific League title, a CIF Southern Section playoff berth and 20 games due to the use of an ineligible player.
Stewart last assisted Smalley’s predecessor, Idris Jones, during the 2009-10 season and said he applied for the job shortly after Smalley’s resignation.
“I’m a Muir guy. I played with Jacque Vaughn in 1992 and attended the Rocky Moore and Stacey Augmon camps that were here when I was a young man,” Stewart said. “This seemed like the perfect job. The only problem was the timing of the hire.”
According to Stewart, he was hired by acting athletic director Charles Park in late June before Park left Muir, which is still in the hiring process for a new athletic director.
Stewart had little time to practice with his new team, which began its summer basketball dead period on July 6.
“I like to follow the NCAA’s 21-day break, which starts in the first week of July and goes through the end of the month,” Stewart said. “I think that’s a good time to take a break because kids are gone on vacation or are playing AAU basketball tournaments. The only problem this year is that it cut my time.”
Stewart’s hire was embraced by Smalley at this week’s Ryan Hollins Skills Camp, hosted by the new Los Angeles Clipper at Muir High.
“Simaine is a community guy, I’ve worked with him and even coached him at the recreational level and he’s a good hire,” Smalley said. “You have to admire when the Muir alumni community comes out to support its youth.”
After graduating from Muir, Stewart continued his playing career at Cal State Los Angeles, where he was named a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. first-teamer his senior season of 1997 after leading the Golden Eagles to a 16-10 record by averaging 14.9 points, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
Stewart left Cal State Los Angeles as the program’s all-time thief with 133 career steals.
“I’ve had a great basketball experience and knew from a young age that you need to have fundamentals to be successful,” Stewart said. “That’s my first goal with this team, is to work on the fundamentals and go from there.”