Yattah Reed again will be the interim coach of the Federal Way High School boys basketball program as longtime coach Jerome Collins remains on paid administrative leave.
Basketball practice began across Washington high schools Monday.
Collins was named in two lawsuits, filed late last year, from two former female Federal Way students that allege they were, without consent, videoed having sex by a Federal Way basketball player and the images were shared with the rest of the team. The lawsuits accuse Collins of keeping the incidents secret so the players could avoid punishment.
The lawsuits, filed against former Federal Way player Jalen McDaniels (who is playing in the NBA G League), the Federal Way School District and Collins in King County Superior Court last year, have been pushed back until summer, according to court documents. Because of the lawsuits and ongoing internal investigation, Collins’ future with the basketball program he led for more than three decades remains unclear.
“In order to conduct a thorough investigation, the district doesn’t predetermine a specific timeline for administrative leave or absences with our employees,” Federal Way School District spokeswoman Kassie Swenson wrote in an email Friday. “We focus on a thorough and timely process.”
Collins, who is seventh on the state’s career win list with 573, confirmed the leave and ongoing investigation but didn’t comment further. He is forbidden to contact the team or coaches.
Reed, who played for Collins before graduating in 1993 and joined his coaching staff in 1998, was named interim coach in October 2018 after the allegations began to surface.
“It’s been difficult just for the simple fact of it was something that was all of a sudden,” Reed said. “When you have 14 young men (and) the head of the team is not going to be with you for the season, it was very difficult to make sure the outside distractions didn’t affect their team goals. … That last year was a group effort.”
Reed said Collins’ tutelage helped him guide the team to the Class 4A state semifinals last season. The Eagles (26-3) lost 61-53 to eventual state champion Gonzaga Prep and went on to finish third.
Reed, who teaches at the school, said there’s a blueprint to the program he’ll still follow. The two-a-days still start at 4:30 a.m. the opening week. The players will still have study hall. The style on the court will still be up-tempo.
Federal Way was nationally ranked last season, but two key players that got them that ranking won’t be back. McDonald’s All-American Jaden McDaniels graduated and plays for the University of Washington.
Senior forward Tari Eason, a four-star recruiting prospect, transferred back to Garfield where he played his freshman season. Senior guards Jaylen-Wes Williams and Bradley Graham are the only returning starters.
“Jaden and Tari were great talents on the court as well as great individuals off the court,” Reed said. “But it’s our system that gives us success. We’re still confident and feel like we’ll be competitive just for the simple fact of the guys that we have and their familiarity.”
Reed added former Federal Way guard Malik Montoya to his coaching staff. Montoya, a 2015 graduate who played at Seattle University and Central Washington, will handle the C-team duties. Last year, Reed and assistant Quinn Gillis juggled the three teams.
The Eagles open the season Dec. 5 at home against Auburn Mountainview.