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Mater Dei's Gary McKnight talks Schea Cotton, 'the Manchild', on CIF Southern Section Sitdown

Schea Cotton was a freshman phenom they called 'the Manchild' in the mid-1990's at Mater Dei

Before LeBron James, there was Schea Cotton.

Cotton was nicknamed the 'Manchild' from an early age, producing newspaper clippings of his size and athleticism in junior high before eventually enrolling at Mater Dei in Santa Ana to play for coach Gary McKnight.

Cotton was a 6-foot-4, 220-pound freshman in 1993 and helped lead the Monarchs to a CIF Southern Section Division I-A championship by averaging 20 points and seven rebounds a game that 1993-94 season.

McKnight, who is entering his 42nd season at the helm, spoke about Cotton's time at Mater Dei on Episode 4 of the CIF Southern Section Sitdown.

"I think he felt way too much pressure," McKnight said. "Being on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a sophomore in high school probably didn't help."

Cotton enrolled at St. John Bosco and played four games for the Braves before transferring to Mater Dei. McKnight remembers the first time Cotton touched the ball in a Monarchs uniform.

"First time he got the ball in a game, on the left wing, went the length of the court and (dunked) it through," McKnight recalled. "One time we ran a short-corner offense for him against a zone. We threw him a lob and he did a two-handed dunk - his arms and shoulders were even with the rim."

The buzz that surrounded Cotton was before his time.

"I just tried to make him as relaxed as possible," McKnight said.

McKnight also touched on Cotton's obsession with the game.

"He wanted to be perfect all the time in a game that can't be played perfectly," McKnight added.