Ohio Bobcats

Ohio’s Jason Preston, seen here during a game against Miami on Jan. 12, was selected by the Orlando Magic in the NBA Draft. The Los Angeles Clippers then acquired the pick from Orlando, sending Preston to California.

Jason Preston’s journey from under-recruited high school player, to mid-major college standout, to the professional ranks is now complete.

Preston was drafted No. 33 overall by the Orlando Magic in Thursday’s 2021 National Basketball Association Draft.

The Magic traded the pick to the Los Angeles Clippers, so Preston will be taking his game to California.

Preston, an Orlando native, was a standout at Ohio University as the Bobcats’ point guard over the last three seasons, making a name for himself in the collegiate ranks.

Preston is the first Ohio player drafted since Brandon Hunter in 2003. Only Gary Trent (11th), Dave Jamerson (15th) and Walter Luckett (27th) have been drafted higher than Preston, who went off the board early in the second round.

Preston averaged 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game over the last three seasons. His 489 assists rank fourth in program history.

Preston led Ohio to the Mid-American Conference Tournament title in 2021, winning the tournament MVP. The Bobcats went on to upset Virginia in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Preston declared for the NBA Draft on April 27th, but didn’t immediately hire an agent as he went through the pre-draft process. He performed well at the draft combine in Chicago, and announced on July 7 that he would remain in the draft and hire an agent.

Preston played in 19 games in the 2020-21 season, averaging 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. His 31-point, eight-assist, zero-turnover game against top-10 ranked Illinois in November put him on the national radar.

The performance highlighted Preston’s rise from a high school player without a scholarship to top-rated college standout.

Preston played at Boone High School in Orlando, Fla., and averaged 2.0 points per game his senior year and had 30 assists in two seasons.

Preston kept his basketball career going when he enrolled at Believe Prep Academy, in Athens, Tenn.

Preston grew four inches, and caught the eye of Ohio coach Saul Phillips.

Phillips offered Preston a scholarship and Preston came to Athens, Ohio.

Preston’s profile grew all three seasons at Ohio, and now his journey to the professional ranks is complete.

Preston will join a Clippers franchise that advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time, losing to Phoenix in six games.

The Clippers get plenty of national attention, especially since Steve Balmer bought the team in 2014. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led the way as the superstars for Los Angeles the last two seasons.

Preston will try to forge his way onto that roster. Training camps are scheduled to open on Sept. 28 for the 2021-22 NBA season, with Oct. 19 scheduled as opening night.

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

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