Meet Lewis Preston, new Kennesaw State head coach

4 May

Can Lewis Preston build Kennesaw State into a contender in the Atlantic Sun?

By Josh Baker
National Hoops Report

Lewis Preston was announced as the second head coach in Kennesaw State’s young Division I history last month. The National Hoops Report caught up with the former Penn State assistant coach about his new job with the Atlantic Sun school.

National Hoops Report: What attracted Lewis Preston to Kennesaw State University, considering you have been at Penn State, Notre Dame and the University of FL?

Lewis Preston: The most important thing that attracted me was the people, when I went through the interview process both on the phone and the on campus interview. I thought I would be the perfect fit and the talent level of the team attracted me. Also the Atlanta area, not just Fulton County, but Cherokee County as well has so much talent.

NHR: Can you talk about the commitment President Papp and new AD Vaughn Williams will be making to the men’s basketball program considering the university is just two years removed from Transition status?

LP: They have made a great commitment, by continuing to provide the resources for our program to be successful, but more importantly their support. They know it’s a process, and we are excited and will embrace the opportunity for the better.

NHR: Can you talk about what current issues the Owls are facing in terms of academic APR type of situations?

LP: That is an issue right now in regards to APR, but we have a great chance to turn that around sooner than later, considering right now is an exam period. At the end of the period we will sit down with the academic people and Athletic Director Vaughn Williams and myself will see where we are at and what steps need to be taken.

NHR: What are some of the consequences of this APR situation? Does this affect how you recruit?

LP: A lot of this hasn’t been discussed at this point. We want to find out how our kids do at the end of exam time. If you look at my track record, it has always been that I have gotten good men both on and off the floor with a high basketball IQ. This will be a lot of fun and a chance for me to put a stamp on the program.

NHR: Have you had any contact with former Coach Tony Ingle, If so what time of things did you all talk about?

LP: I have not and I am in the process of looking into sitting down with him and I look forward to him giving me great incites and help me to embrace things to expect during the season.

NHR: Can you talk about the current roster and what it will look like for 2011-2012 (Currently five juniors, four seniors)?

LP: We have a very talented, older group and one of the things is continuing to spend a lot of quality time with them as the semester finishes up and during the summer. Also I need to make sure I am getting my staff hired, and we are up to speed in terms of recruiting and academically and I need to make sure I get my family here and transitioned.

NHR: Have any players decided to move on or leave the program either by choice or by any other way?

LP: Not as of today, am excited about everyone being on board, however you never know what can happen during exam week. It is important to spend a lot of time on the phone with the guys over the next few weeks and months until they return to campus.

NHR: You talked a lot in your press conference about recruiting the area of Atlanta, Can you go into more detail of that?

LP: You know what, this area is very important. You have three new head coaches within 45 minutes of here that are from the Northeast to the Midwest. We all have our opportunity to stake our claim. We have the hottest bed of talent literally 22 miles away from our doorstep in the nation in the Atlanta area.

NHR: Can you talk about the type of assistants you want to bring in to the program that know the Atlanta area? (Already hired Jimmy Lallathin of Miami-OH)

LP: That is the objective, to have someone who can help open doors in the Atlanta area. Jimmy is the only one right now who is already in right now and we are really close on another young man, but can’t say who until everything is finished. I want someone young and eager who wants to help make this program successful.

NHR: Can you talk about the Atlantic Sun Conference, and how under-rated it is in mid major college basketball? 17TH ranked conference RPI, three teams with 20+ wins, three teams in post-season tournaments, etc.

LP: I think it speaks to two things, great level of talent throughout the country and a great level of talent in the southern states. What Rick Byrd has done at Belmont, Lipscomb has been successful, Jacksonville has had success, Matt Driscoll at North Florida and Mercer who is in the conference and it speaks to Atlantic Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart and his staff and the job they are doing. Any team can beat another team in this league, we need to find the consistency, and maturity and have guys step up on a more consistent basis.

NHR: What type of advice has Mike Brey, Billy Donovan and Ed Dechillis given you since you assumed the position at Kennesaw State?

LP: Mike Brey has been great telling me to take my time with my staff and with communication. Billy has been great in terms of recruiting and Ed who I was with for the last three years has helped me calm down and focus on and balance out my family, which is most important to me, my wife and daughters.

NHR: Lastly, talk about your style, while Brey had the turtlenecks and Billy didn’t wear a jacket, What will Lewis Preston be known for?

LP: Probably will be known for having my hands on my hips a lot from a style standpoint. Hopefully I don’t throw a chair by accident or set an illegal screen on a ref, but in all seriousness what you see is what you are going to get. I am going to give all my effort, energy and passion to our basketball program and I just want the same in return from our guys.


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