Jason Preston

Ohio point guard Jason Preston has declared for the 2021 NBA Draft. Preston will not immediately hire an agent, giving him the option to potentially return to Athens for another season.

Jason Preston defied the odds over the last five years to lead Ohio University to the NCAA Tournament.

On Monday, the point guard took the next step toward a potential professional career.

Preston announced, via Ohio University’s men’s basketball twitter page, that he has declared for the 2021 NBA Draft.

Preston will not hire an agent, however, maintaining his college eligibility and leaving the door open for a return to Athens.

Preston had until May 30 to declare for the draft. He’ll get an opportunity to be evaluated by profesional scouts before making a final decision.

The NCAA has not yet set a deadline for when Preston would have to withdraw his name from the draft to keep his college eligibility. The NBA Draft will be held on July 29.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for allowing this opportunity to happen,” Preston said in his statement. “Without Him, none of this would be possible.

“Secondly, I want to say thank you to my family for helping me along my path in going after my dreams and believing in myself. Lastly, I would like to thank Coach (Jeff) Boals, the Ohio University coaching staff, and my brothers for all your dedication, believe, and sacrifices towards helping me in not only becoming a better basketball player, but evolve into a better man.”

Preston concluded by saying, “After much consideration with my loved ones, I am going after my dreams and declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft while maintaining my collegiate eligibility.”

Preston played in 19 games in the 2020-21 season, averaging 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game .

He gained national notoriety after a 31-point, eight-assist, zero-turnover game at Illinois in November. Preston’s career rise was highlighted, a player who averaged only two points per game in high school before ultimately getting a chance to play with the Bobcats.

Preston made a splash as a freshman, starting 22 of 30 games and handing out 3.4 assists per game.

Preston led the MAC in total assists as a sophomore, posting numbers of 16.8 points, 7.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds a game.

“The world deserves to know about his story,” Boals said before Ohio’s NCAA Tournament game against Virginia. “If you don’t know it, google his story because it’s a movie. I’ve been coaching 26 years and I’ve never seen somebody in his situation, where he was, in a five-year span, from 6-feet tall, 140 pounds scoring 52 points his whole senior year, to where he is today.”

Preston and the Bobcats navigated a season that saw six conference games get canceled due to COVID-19 issues on the roster. Ohio overcame those obstacles to win the MAC Tournament, with Preston taking home MVP honors.

Ohio upset Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Creighton.

“I can’t really think about that now,” Preston said about the prospects of a pro career after the loss to Creighton. “I’ll take it day by day, pray about it, talk to God about it, talk to Coach Boals about it. We’ll weigh our options, and we’ll see what we’ll do.”

If Preston did return to Athens, the Bobcats would return all five starters and the top eight rotational players. Rifen Miguel, Nolan Foster and Mason McMurray have left the program and entered the transfer portal.

The Bobcats recently announced the signing of Ijomah Ezuma and Philo’s A.J. Clayton, two 6-foot-8 forwards. Ezuma comes from Hargrave Military Academy.

Ohio also added Jason Carter back to the mix. He started for three years at Ohio before transferring to Xavier after Boals was hired two years ago.

Carter is using his sixth year of eligibility to come back to Athens to finish his career where it started.


Email at kwiseman@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @KevinWmessenger

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