lights out in tournament play, as he leads Vanguard University to
first Mens Basketball Championship.
construction on the Spokane Reservation of Washington, Preston Wynne
knew he wanted more out of life. Wanting to focus on his education
he decided to give college a try by enrolling at the Spokane Community
tribal college. Two years later he would leave the university as
the all-time leading scorer, putting up 1228 points in only two
years of play. Only four years prior Preston had no idea where his
life would take him, I was jumping around in Native American
tournaments, having a blast with my friends, Those tournaments
helped prepare Wynne for the biggest test of his life.
Wynne transferred to Vanguard University in Costa Mesa California
where he quickly became the Lions leading scorer in his junior year.
The Lions qualified for the National Association of Intercollegiate
Athletics (NAIA) in Wynnes senior year for the first time
since 2005, as Wynne helped lead the Lions to a 27-6 record, which
landed them a six seed.
Vanguard was viewed as an underdog in the majority of their
games with most thinking that they were too small and skinny to
compete with the bigger teams of the conference. Wynne would help
prove them wrong as he scored 133 points in three games, averaging
26.6 per game along the way. Wynnes best game came in the
semifinals as he made 14 of 19 from the field, including 6 three
point shots, scoring a tournament high 42 points over Saint Gregorys
University, I just had a confident focus in myself and my
team to trust that I could go out and do what I could do, we got
out there and just had fun.
Lions went on to their first NAIA Championship appearance taking
on a much larger Emmanuel University team that played them tough,
holding Wynne to 7 of 24 shooting for the contest. He made up for
missed shots by playing a stifling defense and controlling the game
as he built up his teammates who gladly rose to the challenge, I
shot exactly the same shots I shot (Monday) night, but they just
werent hitting today, Wynne said. I kept shooting.
I have 100 percent confidence that every one of my shots is going
to go in. Sometimes they fall; sometimes they dont.
The Lions held off Emmanuel 70-65, Wynne was voted the Most
Valuable Player of the tournament becoming the first Native American
to receive that honor. He was also voted the MVP of the Golden State
Athletic Conference due to his amazing ability to shoot the ball
from long range and his will to win, It has not sunk in yet;
I think its going to take a couple days. Right now just getting
this win with this group of guys, I have no words for it right now,
its just amazing.
Preston Wynne had some advice along the way for young Native
Americans across the country, I want to show that everybody
can do this, there are way better players than me on every rez,
and I just want to show them how easy it is just to go and do it,
its so simple, I wish everyone the opportunity to do what
I do, they just have to get off the reservation and do it. I hope
this run just opens doors, thats my biggest thing. Everyone
just follows this and I want them to know its doable.
Preston Wynnes story just goes to show that anything is
possible if you stay dedicated and continue to overcome adversity.
Native Americans can take pride knowing that we have the abilities
to do anything.