June 11, 2018 -- Veteran college and high school basketball coach Mike Cruz has been named the head boys basketball coach at Heights High School.
Cruz has spent the past two seasons as the head boys basketball coach at Washington High School in Massillon. He went 27-22 with the Tigers, earning the program’s first district tournament appearance since 2006 during his first season at the helm in 2016.
“The combination of Mike's collegiate coaching experience and the high school programs he has coached at were a big factor in selecting him to be our head basketball coach,” said CH-UH Athletic Director Joe D’Amato. “His desire to build a program the community will be proud of and his hunger to be successful on and off the court set him apart from other candidates. We are confident Mike is the guy to take our program to the next level.”
Cruz takes over a Heights program that is coming off a 2017-2018 season that saw the Tigers finish 16-9 and win the Lake Erie League championship. Heights lost to Division I state finalist Solon in the district semifinals.
Coverage From Cleveland.com: Michael Cruz taking over as Cleveland Heights boys basketball coach
Cruz began his coaching career at the collegiate level in 2009 as a graduate assistant for player development at UNC Charlotte. He spent two years at Charlotte, working under former 49ers head coach Alan Major.
After Charlotte, Cruz spent one season as the head men’s basketball coach at Lorain County Community College in 2011-2012 and two seasons as the assistant men’s basketball coach at Lake Erie College from 2012-2014. He led LCCC to a 19-10 record and a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament for the first time since the program was reinstated in the late 1990s.
Cruz entered the high school coaching ranks in 2014, taking the reins of the boys basketball program at Colerain High School in Cincinnati for one season. He then served as the varsity assistant coach at Garfield Heights High School during the 2015-2016 season, helping the Bulldogs to a state semifinal appearance.
Cruz has spent the past four years as a social studies teacher, first at Colerain High, followed by Northeast Ohio College Preparatory Middle School and most recently at Massillon Washington High.
Cruz earned his bachelor’s degree in history/education administration from Ohio State University and his master’s degree in secondary education from Ashland University.