Undaunted, Cole Preston rebounds

Cole Preston at San Marcos High School in December 2012|BILL WECHTER

Editor’s Note: Escondido’s Cole Preston was a point guard, and 4-year starter for the San Marcos High School basketball squad. His day, Rob Preston, was a standout quarterback at Vista High, leading the Panthers to a San Diego Section 3A championship in 1973.

Rob went on to play at USC, then served as a backup to Dan Fouts on the Kansas City Chiefs. By a twist of fate, Rob died of brain cancer just two hours before Chargers legend Junior Seau, affected by football-induced brain damage, died on May 12, 2012.

This is an accounting of Cole’s triumph over adversity as he finishes his collegiate basketball career at St. Martin’s University.

Poised to start his senior year at St. Martin’s University, Cole Preston steps off the plane from San Diego in perfect basketball-playing shape. He was awarded MVP last year at St. Martin’s and stacked up some heady statistics in assists and free throws for the GNAC conference.

However, Cole left for the summer, vowing to take his game to a new level. He spent the summer training at The California Sports Institute with Chris Munford during the day and evenings at the local Escondido 24-Hour Fitness running shooting drills.

Munford  the former inaugural Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA, spent hours analyzing video tape of Preston, designing a special fitness program to enhance his explosive power and athleticism. Chris currently consults directly with the performance and medical staff for NBA and NFL teams and a few select college athletes with the dedication and talent that Preston possesses.

The road to college basketball wasn’t always easy for Cole. He and his father, Rob, shared a special bond; a former NFL player, Rob coached Cole’s first recreation basketball team and was his most ardent fan–never missing a game.

Tragically, Rob was diagnosed with brain cancer during Cole’s sophomore year of high school and passed away at the end of his senior year. The first time on the court after his father’s passing, Cole looked to the stands where his dad always sat and just crumbled. While other players were being scouted during the summer AAU tournaments, Cole Preston was grieving the loss of his father.

By the end of summer, Cole decided to play ball at Sierra Junior College, near Sacramento, a great junior college with a strong basketball team. At Sierra, his work ethic and talent, quickly stood out. He started both years and was captain of his team; he was selected for the First Team Big 8 All-Conference and Delta Class All-Tournament team; and finished 10th in the state in assists.

After two years, Cole was ready to move on to a 4-year college. Once again, he was felled by a distressing event that was out of his control. His college coach mysteriously left for the summer, leaving his computer locked up with all the scouting notes on the 4-year schools that were interested in Cole. He had to start from scratch, hustling to find a team to call home for his next two years.

Undaunted by the adversity, Cole picked up the phone and began calling his basketball friends. Known for his generosity of spirit on and off the court, he received the hand up that he needed. Everyone from his high school basketball coach to coaches he formerly competed against, jumped to his aid.

Soon, the phone calls from interested college coaches began to flood Cole’s cell phone. One call really stuck with him. A new coach in the state of Washington, Alex Pribble, reached out to Cole and convinced him that St. Martin’s University would be a good fit. The slow phone dance of coach and player became magical, and soon Cole committed.

Flash forward to this approaching season. Cole Preston has come to St. Martin’s to finish his college career with flair. He is the college basketball player to watch this season.

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COLE PRESTON (Info at UT Preps 12/7/12)

School: San Marcos.

Born: Aug. 28, 1995 in Escondido.

Year: Senior.

Position: Guard.

Sport: Basketball.

QUICK HITS

Favorite gym: Old San Marcos High.

Least favorite gym: Fallbrook, only because it’s so far away.

Favorite shot: A floater.

Favorite basketball movie: “Space Jam.” Seen it countless times.

Talent I’d like to have: Be able to play lockdown defense.

Dream date: Jessica Alba.

Favorite food: Pizza.

Favorite restaurant: Red Robin.

Favorite city you’ve visited: Tokyo. My brother lived there, and visiting him has me excited about traveling.

Favorite athlete: Derrick Rose.

Favorite college team: Kansas.

Favorite NBA team: Clippers.

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