As the seconds wound down and the Bearkats bowed out of the first round of the Southland Conference tournament, power forward Preston Brown knew that he had made his mark on Sam Houston State basketball and after only his first season as a Bearkat.
Brown started playing basketball at a young age. His father Stefan was an exceptional player and even played college ball in junior college, but after a knee injury he was told by doctors it was time to leave the sport he loved.
He responded to his loss by teaching his kids the game.
“My dad taught me and my brother,” said Brown. “I have been around basketball for so long, I have a picture of me at one and half years old shooting a Nerf basketball.”
But Brown did not stop there. He kept playing basketball, and he kept growing, reaching 6-foot 3-inches by his freshman year of high school.
During high school, Brown played for both his high school team, the Stringtown Tigers and Oklahoma City Trotters, an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team. By his junior year, Brown had captured the attention of several college coaches, including those from University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Lamar, and Stephen F. Austin State University.
It really was not a shock that all the coaches showed up. During his junior year, Brown was all-state, all-region, and all- district, and the 6-foot-6 inch forward was averaging 24 points a game.
During his senior year, he was set to make a huge splash. He did just that, leading his team in scoring again, averaging just over 19 points a game and leading them to a 29-1 record.
It was not just on the court where Brown succeeded; he worked hard in the classroom and was the class salutatorian.
After high school, however, the offers just were not right and Brown set his sights on junior college.
“[I] just didn’t like my school options out of high school,” said Brown.
With that decision, he ended up at Redlands Community College.
Under the guidance of head coach Steve Eck, Brown flourished and the team went 31-2.
After a promising freshman season, Coach Eck decided to leave the Redlands and head to Cowley County Junior College, but not before asking his power forward to tag along.
“I really liked Coach Eck,” Brown said. “He had a lot of dedication and when he asked me to go, I went.”
If his freshman season at Redlands was considered good, his sophomore year at Cowley was even better. In a season when he averaged 10 points a game and six rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the floor, he really had college coaches looking his way.
During one of his games at Cowley, SHSU head coach Bob Marlin sat in the stands watching the young power forward. After the game was over, Marlin talked to Brown and soon after offered him a scholarship.
“I thought he was a tough, hard-nosed player,” Marlin said. “He could score, rebound, and play defense. He is just a winner.”
Brown, who did not sign with the Bearkats until late into the recruiting process, said that he chose Sam Houston because of coach Marlin’s love of the game, the same reason he liked Eck.
From the instant Brown set foot on campus, he was here with a work ethic; his practices are done at full speed and he is constantly refining and retuning his game.
Brown excelled in his first season here, averaging just less than 10 points a game and slightly fewer than five boards a game.
“It went well; we had some adjustments to make,” said Marlin. “He had some foul trouble early on, but he had some really big games and played well.”
Getting those accolades will not stop him from getting better though, he has set his sights on the game he can not live without.
“I love this game,” said Brown. “I don’t know why, but I love it.”