Seven days after Chase Audige announced he was declaring for the draft, 10 days after Robbie Beran announced he would be entering the transfer portal and two weeks after Boo Buie declared he would be going to the next level, Northwestern has finally welcomed in its first transfer addition.
Liberty forward Blake Preston tweeted on Sunday night that he would be the next to don the purple and white, marking the Wildcats’ first transfer of the 2023 cycle. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound graduate transfer spent five years with the Flames, and will utilize his extra COVID year at Northwestern.
In the 2022-23 season, Preston played in 35 of Liberty’s 36 games, starting 22. The big man averaged 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 66% from the field. In addition to leading the Flames in shooting percentage, Preston was also second on the team in rebounds and blocks. Across his entire career in Lynchburg, Virginia, Preston played in 109 games, starting 51.
Against Northwestern at the Cancún Challenge, Preston logged 12 minutes, making both of his shot attempts to total four points and four rebounds off the bench.
Preston helped contribute to a Liberty team that went 27-9 and finished one point shy of Kennesaw State in the ASUN Championship, therefore narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament. The Flames defeated Villanova in the first round of the NIT before falling to Wisconsin.
At first glance, Preston very closely mirrors Tydus Verhoeven’s transfer from last year. Both Verhoeven and Preston stand at 6-foot-9 — with Verhoeven weighing approximately five pounds more — and came to Evanston as mid-major transfers to fill a very specific niche alongside Matthew Nicholson. With this move, it appears Chris Collins will be attempting to recreate his lineup similar to 2023’s tournament team.
The big man adds depth to the front court for Northwestern, and shows Wildcat fans that Collins has indeed been working the portal to replace his lost talent.
Now, he’ll just have to replace his All-Big Ten backcourt. No biggie, right?