University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan wasted little time to fill the vacancy on his coaching staff, hiring Lewis Preston on April 28, 2006. Preston comes to the University of Florida after spending six years under Mike Brey at Notre Dame. During his time on the Irish staff, he worked with the Irish post players and was instrumental in the development in this area. Preston is also a highly regarded national recruiter.
Preston helped the Irish to a 118-70 (.628) mark in six years in South Bend, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and a Sweet 16 showing in 2003. The Irish reached the postseason in each of Preston's six years at Notre Dame.
Preston has had the opportunity to work with two former players currently in the NBA --Troy Murphy (Golden State Warriors) and Ryan Humphrey (Memphis Grizzlies). Both were first-round draft picks in back-to-back seasons as Murphy was the 14th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, while Humphrey was a 19th selection in 2002. Under his guidance, current junior Torin Francis has led the Irish in rebounding in successive seasons and been a member of the BIG EAST all-rookie team in 2003 and honorable mention all-conference team in 2004.
The Boones Mill, Va., native joined the Irish men's basketball program following two seasons as an assistant on Pete Strickland's staff at Coastal Carolina, where he oversaw the academic progress and preseason conditioning of players, assisted in coaching, organized travel and was involved with on-campus recruiting.
A 1993 graduate of Virginia Military Institute, Preston spent four years playing professionally in Europe. He began his professional career in 1993-94, playing for Palma Ahn in Wormeldange, Luxembourg. In his first season, he averaged 25.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and three blocks per game. The following season (1994-95), he averaged more than 20 points and 12 rebounds per contest while playing for Tolka Rovers in Dublin, Ireland. He played for Lahti, Finland's Lahden Namika Basketball Organization during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 campaigns, averaging 17.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Preston had an outstanding collegiate career after playing just one season at Franklin County (Va.) High School. He began as a walk-on at VMI, but left as a 1,000-point scorer and a school-record holder in four categories. The Franklin County, Va., native scored 1,146 career points, becoming just the 21st player in school history to top the 1,000-point plateau. He finished his career 19th on the VMI scoring list.
As a senior, Preston led the Keydets in scoring (16.7), rebounding (7.1), field-goal percentage (.540), free- throw percentage (.800) and blocked shots (48). During the 1992-93 campaign, Preston scored in double figures in all but four of VMI's 27 contests and had 20 or more points on seven occasions. His career high came in '93 against The Citadel, when he poured in 37 points while adding 15 rebounds. That performance marked the fourth-highest individual scoring game in school history.
Preston's wrath also was felt by opposing players trying to score in the paint, as his 6-8 frame mercilessly rejected shot attempts. He is the school's record holder in career blocked shots (202) as he also registered three of the top four blocked shot seasons in Keydet history, including a school-record 65 in 1992. Preston also is the co-holder of the VMI record for blocked shots in a game, which he set by rejecting seven shot attempts against Marshall in '92.
Preston was a two-time all-Southern Conference selection, leading the league in blocked shots twice and finishing as its second all-time shot-blocking leader. He concluded his career at the Lexington, Va., school with averages of 10.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He also shares the VMI record for field goals in a game (16 vs. Western Carolina in '92).
Born Oct. 31, 1970, Preston graduated from VMI with a bachelor's degree in history and a minor in English literature. He married the former Angela Sangermano in May of 2001. The couple has two daughters, Alexandra, born in December of 2002, and Emma, born in January of 2005.
Preston Quick Facts
Born: October 31, 1970 in Franklin County, Va.
Family: Married to the former Angela Sangermano in May of 2001 ... They have a daughter, Alexandra (born in December of 2002) and Emma (born in January of 2005).
Education: Graduated from Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, Va. in 1988 ... Graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1993 with bachelor's degree in history and a minor in English Literature.
Playing Experience: Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, Va. Played four years at VMI (1990-93), earning All-Southern Conference honors twice and setting the school record in career shot blocks ... Played professionally for Palma Ahn in Wormeldange, Luxembourg (1993-94), Tolka Rivers in Dublin, Ireland (1994-95) and Lahden Namika Basketball Organization in Lahti, Finland (1995-97).
Coaching Background: Assistant coach at Coastal Carolina University under Pete Strickland 1998-2000 ... Assistant coach at the University of Notre Dame under Mike Brey 2000-06… Assistant coach at the University of Florida 2006-present