Xenia senior Samari Curtis (with ball), shown here at the Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop, scored a school-record 52 points against visiting Bellefontaine on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Photo: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Photo: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Xenia’s Samari Curtis OK with UC despite loss of coach

Samari Curtis, the 2019 Ohio Mr. Basketball who signed with the University of Cincinnati, plans to honor that commitment to the Bearcats.

That’s what Xenia coach Kent Anderson said on Tuesday. Anderson said he and Curtis were deluged with requests for comment after longtime Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin signed with UCLA early Tuesday afternoon.

“As of right now (Curtis) is not planning on anything different,” Anderson said. “He’s very content and had a very mature response. He understands that whole thing is a business and when you have a program like UCLA, Mick Cronin couldn’t pass it up. When you look at the financial package, that would be tough to pass up as well.”

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Cronin succeeds Steve Alford, who was fired at UCLA on New Year’s Eve. In his five-plus seasons, UCLA earned four NCAA tourney appearances and advanced to the Sweet 16 three times.

According to ESPN, Cronin agreed to a six-year, $24 million contract to coach the Bruins.

Cronin, 47, spent the past 13 seasons as UC’s coach. He won at least 20 games and qualified for the NCAA tournament each of the last nine seasons, although only once advanced past the first two rounds. Prior to UC Cronin was the head coach at Murray State for three seasons.

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Curtis, a 6-foot-4 lefty, reset most of Xenia’s single-season and career records, and led the Greater Western Ohio Conference in scoring the last three seasons. He averaged a career-best 34.4 points as a senior and scored 40 or more nine times, including a career-high 52 against Bellefontaine.

He also averaged 7.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and converted 224 of 292 free throws (76.7 percent) for the Buccaneers (13-11). Curtis scored 816 points as a senior and 2,109 in his career.

“UC is perfect,” Anderson said. “You’re close to home and your family can follow you, but you’re away enough that you grow up and become your own person. The maturity that Samari has gone through and the whole (recruiting) process the last couple years has been remarkable. We’re so proud of him.”

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Curtis will play in the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Boys Game at Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, Ky., at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Joining him on the Ohio team are Amari Davis of Trotwood-Madison and Sidney’s Andre Gordon.

Playing in the Ohio-Kentucky girls game are area players Alexis Hutchison of Centerville, Mya Jackson of Wilmington and Wayne’s Olivia Trice. The girls will tip off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

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