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Penn State Hires New Basketball Assistant

When Hillary Scott left Ed DeChellis' coaching staff a few weeks ago a lot of Nittany Lion fans (ok, maybe just the ones who actually follow basketball) feared this meant a downturn in the program was sure to follow. Scott served as Ed's right hand man for 10 years and played an instrumental role in recruiting and developing talent. Replacing him would not be easy. But it appears that Ed has found a worthy replacement in Preston Lewis.

Penn State coach Ed DeChellis today announced the addition of former University of Florida and Notre Dame assistant Lewis Preston to the Nittany Lion basketball coaching staff, filling the vacancy left by the departure of Hilliary Scott for the head coaching position at Lynchburg College. Preston will assume his new position on June 4.

"We are very excited to welcome Lewis to Penn State and our coaching staff," DeChellis said. "He is an outstanding young coach and a very highly regarded national recruiter with a terrific background in basketball as both a coach and a player. We think he is really a perfect fit with our players and staff and are looking forward to having him join our basketball family."

"I'm really excited about the opportunity to come and work with Coach DeChellis and his staff at Penn State," Preston said. "I look forward to the challenge and the opportunity to help make the Nittany Lions a force to reckon with in the Big Ten."

Preston spent the last two years as an assistant coach on Billy Donovan's staff at Florida and before that spent six years under Mike Brey at Notre Dame. Florida won the second of its back-to-back national championships in Preston's first year on the Gators' staff where he was an integral part of Florida's recruiting, scouting, game preparation and on-court teaching.

Ok I have a confession to make. My first thought when I read this bio was "What's wrong with this guy?" I mean, he's a young, successful, up and coming coach with two national championship rings on his fingers. Why in the world would he leave Florida to make a sideways move to a perennial losing program like Penn State? I figured there must be some kind of scandal forcing him to leave Florida. It just doesn't make sense.

So I did a google news search. Nothing seedy there. So then I checked on some Florida message boards. If there was any dirt on the guy that's the place to find it. But they all say he's a standup guy. Huh.

One thing to consider is that Preston has been looking around at head coaching jobs lately, most notably with Coastal Carolina where he had a brief stint as an assistant years ago. Maybe Billy Donovan got irritated with his top assistant going on job interviews instead of recruiting trips. Or maybe Preston is being groomed to take over for Ed should the Nittany Lions not make the post season this year. But let's not think about such things.

This makes no sense to me, but who am I to argue? Way to go Tim Curley and Ed. Preston had an outstanding playing career at VMI as well as an excellent coaching record at Notre Dame and Florida. My biggest gripe with Penn State in recent years has been the lack of effective low post players. Preston has proven to be especially effective in recruiting and developing low post players. So early returns are this is an outstanding hire. I have to agree. Welcome to Penn State, Lew.