Some Friendly Coaching Advice
Lewis Preston has coached under some of the game’s top Head Coaches in Mike Brey and Billy Donovan. As the Head Coach at Kennesaw State from 2011 to 2014, Lewis led the program through a complete rebuilding phase due to program facing APR sanctions, reduction of scholarships (13 to 11), and decrease in per-week practice hours (20 to 16) because of sanctions issued prior to arrival. Prior to Kennesaw State, Lewis assisted three programs to five NCAA Tournaments and five NIT Tournaments, including Florida to the 2006-07 NCAA Tournament National Championship and Penn State to the 2008-09 NIT Championship. As an Assistant Coach, he has coached 14 NBA players, including 2007 first-round draft picks Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Corey Brewer. A stand-out player at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Lewis scored 1,146 career points and was a two-time All-Southern Conference Team selection.
What are you doing to stay busy during your time away from the court?
I am currently helping the Atlanta Hawks with their Junior Hawks programs, which includes clinics and camps. I am helping friends of mine with their sports marketing business, Sports Image, Inc, that is involved with 11 high school basketball tournaments locally through January 2016. I also just completed an integrity coaching facilitation training that will help to better understand the different behavioral styles of coaches and players. As you can tell, I have kept myself busy learning, growing, and making the most of past and current experiences.
I am also really watching how teams are adjusting to the new rule changes in college basketball. I find it interesting that a lot of programs are playing more zone. I am curious to see how the new 30 second shot clock affects shooting percentages.
How this time away from being on the court made you a better coach?
My time away from coaching has allowed for reflection on what I did well and not so well. I have gone to a lot of different high school and college practices. I have been to different events and kept my recruiting chops sharp. I have also continued to keep in touch with different AAU coaches and build on existing relationships.
What did you learn during your time as a Head Coach that will make you a better coach in the future?
The best piece of advice I would pass along to young coaches that aspire to be a Division I Head Coach is to listen, learn, ask questions, and be ready to contribute in all phases of the game. Furthermore, you better be loyal, trustworthy, and do your job! Finally, as Pete Strickland always told me: “good assistants do what the Head Coach wants…great assistants stay one step ahead.”
Who have been your mentors within the coaching profession?
I would consider my four biggest mentors to be Pete Strickland, Anthony Solomon (Assistant Coach at Notre Dame), Mike Brey (Head Coach at Notre Dame), and Ed DeChellis (Head Coach at US Naval Academy).
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a coach?
My biggest accomplishment as a coach has been the continued relationships and friendships with a number of players and coaches in the profession. You never understand the impact you have on a person until they are at the next level or having families and then they talk to you about their experiences and how you helped them realize their dreams.
What is your ultimate goal within the coaching profession?
My ultimate goal is to get back into the collegiate coaching profession. I want to help a young coach with all the responsibilities that comes with the job of being a first time Head Coach. Also, I would love another opportunity to run a program after all I experienced as a Head Coach.
What advice do you have for coaches who aspire to become a Division I Head Coach?
I learned as a Head Coach that you better have the right staff around you. You need to create your culture in the locker room immediately. Also, you need to delegate responsibilities and hold assistants and support staff accountable. You need to have a clear vision of where you are and where you need to go. Most importantly, everyone is on the same page on and off the court!