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Men’s Basketball: Assistant coach Lewis takes job with Gators

Bobby Griffin | Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Irish assistant coach Lewis Preston, who spent the last six seasons with the team, accepted a job at the University of Florida under head coach Billy Donovan, the Notre Dame athletic department said in a statement Friday.

Former Florida assistant coach Anthony Grant left the Gators to take the head coaching job at Virginia Commonwealth. Preston was hired as Grant’s replacement after spending much of his time at Notre Dame working with post players including Torin Francis and Rick Cornett.

“I really thought Billy Donovan established him as his guy right out of the gate,” Irish coach Mike Brey said in a telephone interview Monday. “I kinda had a feeling even before he went down there that if it went well he would offer him a job.”

During Preston’s six years at Notre Dame, the Irish made the postseason all six times, including three NCAA tournaments. Notre Dame reached the Sweet 16 in 2003.

The last three seasons, however, the Irish missed the NCAA tournament and instead competed in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT).

“I think he is excited for this chance … excited about a move to that area,” Brey said. “And you wish him well and you congratulate him and thank him for his service for six years.”

The Notre Dame athletic department said Preston will be missed, and was a huge asset to the Irish program. But he added that the move is one that will enhance his former assistant’s resume for future head coaching positions.

“His goal is to become a head coach … and he could be a head coach probably very soon,” Brey said. “If you learn another system from another guy, that certainly can help your public relations when you become a head coach.”

Brey also said he is excited to hire a new coach because of the freshness it will bring the program. He said he has received phone calls already and the process should take place over the next couple weeks.

Florida returns much of its national championship team from last season – a group that defeated UCLA 73-57 on April 4. Among the returning players are forwards Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford.

Notes:

u Brey said Monday Irish guard Chris Quinn and forward Torin Francis are currently working out in preparation for the Orlando pre-draft workouts in early June. Notre Dame forward Rick Cornett is staying in shape as well.

“There is nothing concrete now until probably late May, where there will be some workouts with NBA teams,” Brey said.