From Ohio College to LA: Jason Preston’s Unimaginable Journey to the 2021 NBA Draft is Film Worthy

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On the age of 16, Jason Preston was confronted with an impediment effectively previous the likes of the standard teenager in love with the sport of basketball. Preston’s mom, Judith, misplaced her battle with lung most cancers, leaving him with out the closest determine he’s ever identified. 

Rising up in Orlando, basketball might have aided Preston via an insurmountable grieving course of, however Ohio College’s perennial level guard says his religion guided him in the direction of peace. 

“As soon as I actually believed, in my religion, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the facet of every part taking place for a purpose,” he says in a ZOOM name, only a few days earlier than the 2021 NBA Draft. “So simply to know that, it’s all part of God’s plan. She’s in a greater place now, as a substitute of getting to battle the best way she was down right here. She’s in a a lot better place and , simply having that mindset actually helps you push via not solely that particular impediment however something you is perhaps coping with in life.”

All the pieces taking place for a purpose may as effectively be the motto for Preston’s journey. After averaging solely two factors per sport in highschool and dropping the closest connection he’s ever had, Preston has persevered and molded himself into an NBA draft choose. Final evening, he was chosen No. 33 general by the Los Angeles Clippers.

The lanky 6-foot-Four guard says the mixture of two elements has coalesced into the success he’s garnered up to now: confidence and alternative. After beginning only one sport in his highschool profession, Preston graduated from William R.Boone Excessive College and commenced taking summer season lessons on the College of Central Florida with the intention of enrolling within the fall and majoring in journalism.  

He continued to hoop, taking part in in concurrent tournaments in Orlando and Georgia. Whereas he shined on the summer season circuit, he additionally was given recommendation from Division I and II scouts: think about prep faculty. 

He took their recommendation and moved to Athens, Tennessee to play for a school boarding prep program, Consider Prep Academy. With roommates on the C-team, Preston elected to play for his or her squad solely in an try and discover a constant rhythm coupled with constant time on the ground. He discovered each and was rapidly bumped as much as the A-team through the 2017-18 season, the place he averaged 12 factors, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds per sport. 

“Because the season was ending, I noticed I didn’t have any movie on myself and that’s one thing that coaches need,” Preston says. “So after one in all our tournaments, I requested for the group iPad. I’m display screen recording all these clips of myself. I despatched it over to one in all my pals, he put all of it collectively, like a two-minute, three-minute combine, and Consider’s Twitter web page posted it.”

Whereas the put up has since been eliminated as a result of copyright points, Preston’s excessive motor, sensational pocket-passes, and quintessential drive to search out the open man caught the eyes of Ohio College. 

There, Preston needed to alter to the fast-paced, bodily dominant model of basketball on the collegiate stage. As a freshman, he began 22 video games and averaged 6 factors per sport whereas taking part in for head coach Saul Phillips. However by the top of the season, after ending with a 14-17 file, this system determined to half methods with Phillips and employed alum Jeff Boales. 

Preston says that solely 4 gamers remained after his freshman 12 months, two of which have been damage. One other alternative had offered itself, and all Preston needed to do was attain for it. 

“It was mainly a wholly new group and I knew that I used to be gonna must take a much bigger position and I used to be actually excited for the chance,” he says. “I used to be consuming 5 meals a day, I’m speaking about meals meals. Lifting anytime I might, understanding a minimum of twice a day like, I used to be actually actually motivated that summer season.”

Preston says he placed on 20 kilos that summer season by consuming a ton of Chipotle. He additionally grew three inches, standing at 6-foot-4. Clearly, all that coaching (and steak and rice) paid off going into his sophomore 12 months, the place he averaged 16.eight factors and seven.Four assists per sport. He scored his first profession triple-double, and solely the second in program historical past, in opposition to Miami. 

Carrying that momentum into his junior 12 months, Preston had a breakout sport in opposition to Illinois, the place he dazzled in a nail-biting 77-75 loss. He completed with a season-high 31 factors, grabbing six boards, and allotting eight assists. 

Heading into the sport, Preston says his confidence was hovering. With an understanding of Illinois’ drop protection and defensive schemes, he knew he’d have to say himself as a score-first guard, one thing he’s not often needed to get away of his bag.

“I simply took what they gave me,” Preston says. “I had like a floater loads of instances, I had my shot going early. Typically I’d take all of it the best way to the rim. The second half I attempted to get slightly bit extra of my guys concerned. Sadly we couldn’t pull it out, nevertheless it actually helped our general confidence as a group that we will play with anyone.”

Now, Preston is bringing that unwavering confidence into his subsequent alternative: the NBA. Having by no means visited the western half of the US, Preston took a second throughout his interview with SLAM to replicate on the great thing about the cities he received to go to up to now, from Denver and Phoenix to Los Angeles, through the pre-draft course of. 

After listening to his title get referred to as final evening, Preston will now name the Metropolis of Angels house. He despatched out a tweet shortly after that stated, “NEVER LET ANYONE TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN/CANNOT DO.” 

Irrespective of the chances, Preston’s journey to the League is a testomony to these phrases, in addition to the religion and confidence he’s at all times had in himself. All the pieces really occurs for a purpose.  

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