MARTIN, Tenn. – Head coach Anthony Stewart has announced the addition of Preston Parks to the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball program. The 6-1, 175-pound guard will be a junior for the Skyhawks during the 2018-19 season.
Parks has spent the last two seasons at The Citadel, where he was named the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2016-17. The southpaw from Greenville, SC averaged 22.1 points per game in conference play last season, becoming the first freshman to lead the SoCon in scoring since two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry accomplished the feat for Davidson in 2006-07.
“We are very excited to add Preston to our Skyhawk basketball family,” Stewart said. “He has put together huge accolades at The Citadel and in the Southern Conference. We look for him to be an immediate impact player next season.”
A Preseason All-SoCon selection, Parks started and appeared in six games for the Bulldogs under head coach Duggar Baucom this season. He averaged 13.8 points, 4.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per contest, shooting 40 percent (14-for-35) from three-point range while going a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line. He recorded season-highs of 21 points and seven rebounds in only 22 minutes in the season-opener against Oglethorpe while he also compiled season-bests of nine assists and four steals in just 24 minutes against Trinity Baptist on Nov. 21. He sported an impressive 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio for The Citadel before announcing his intent to transfer.
“I chose UT Martin because of the relationships with the coaching staff,” Parks said. “I felt comfortable here and that was the biggest factor in my decision. The Ohio Valley Conference is a very good conference and a lot of players have been drafted from this league. This situation was the right fit.”
Parks was an integral part of a record-setting season at The Citadel in 2016-17, as he became the second player in school history to notch SoCon Freshman of the Year honors. He also tallied All-SoCon third team honors for a Bulldog squad that led Division-I basketball in scoring at 89.8 points per game, posted their most wins since the 2009-10 season and tallied their first SoCon Tournament victory since 2010.
During his collegiate debut season, Parks averaged team-highs of 18.1 points, 3.9 assists and a SoCon-leading 2.0 steals per game. He sank 82.8 percent (96-for-116) of his free throw attempts while pitching in 3.1 rebounds per outing. His 60 steals (second), 77 three-pointers (sixth) and 543 points (eighth) each ranked in the top-10 in The Citadel single-season history while his 2.0 steals per game ranked 26th in the nation.
Parks led the Bulldogs in scoring on 15 different occasions in 2016-17, piling up 15 games of at least 20 points. He dialed up a trio of 30-plus point performances, including a career-high 37 points at Samford on Feb. 25 – the sixth-best single-game scoring total in The Citadel history. He knocked down eight 3-pointers (third-most in the school’s single game history) at Western Carolina on Jan. 19 while tying the school record with eight steals with 10 assists (third-best Bulldog single-game effort) against Johnson University on Nov. 13.
On the prep level, Parks graduated from Wade Hampton High School as its all-time leading scorer with 1,596 points. Playing for head coach Reggie Choplin, Parks twice earned South Carolina 4A all-state accolades while averaging 23.1 points and five assists per game as a senior. He set the WHHS single-season scoring record with 556 points while also shattering the school’s single-game record with 43 points (including nine trifectas) against JL Mann High School. His strong play led to an appearance in the Carolinas Classic All-Star Game, where he represented the South Carolina squad against the best players from North Carolina.
Photos courtesy of Zach Bland/The Citadel Athletics