Jason Preston’s dream has come to fruition— he’s been drafted into the NBA.

Preston was drafted by the Orlando Magic for the Los Angeles Clippers as the No. 33 pick in the second round of the NBA Draft Thursday night. He’s the first Bobcat to be drafted since Brandon Hunter was selected in the second round by the Boston Celtics in 2003. He’s also the first Bobcat since Maurice Ndour in 2015 to sign with an NBA team.

Over the last eight months, the college basketball world has put Preston under the spotlight. His 31-point performance against then No. 8 Illinois in late November drew national attention. Audiences clung to the story of the death of his mother Judith Sewell when he was 16 and the improbable circumstances that led to his recruitment by Ohio. His average two points per game in high school ballooned to 16.1 points per game by the end of his junior year at Ohio.

His strong performance at the draft combine in late June further piqued interest. Preston was noted for his excellent playmaking and court intelligence, albeit needing work on his overall athleticism. In his first scrimmage during the combine, he totaled 10 points, four rebounds and shot 66.7% from the field.

In three seasons at Ohio, Preston molded himself from a skinny point guard with potential into the go-to authority on the court. He led Ohio in points and assists per game, was second in field goal percentage and was named the Mid-American Conference Tournament MVP during the 2020-21 season. He also led Ohio to its first MAC Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012, where it stunned No. 4 seeded Virginia before falling to Creighton in the second round.

Preston was the face of the Bobcats last season, and now he’s off to live his dream.

He’s back to who he was when he arrived in Athens for the first time— a young guard in a new setting with tremendous potential.

@thejackgleckler

jg011517@ohio.edu