Logan • Like they do for every game in the Spectrum, Dwayne Medlin and his wife, Brenda, will find their way to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, hop a plane and make the long trek to Logan to see the kid everyone believes is about to become Utah State’s next big basketball star.
That would be their kid.
Many families are close. But even by that standard, the relationship between Preston Medlin and his family is special. It’s a bond that formed years ago, when the father would be away on business and the son would beg his mother to stay up just a little while longer so he can see him come home and say goodnight.
It’s a bond that was solidified when Brenda would take note of Preston’s speed on the soccer field and his fluidity in the way he turned double plays during youth baseball games. When Dwayne spent long stretches out of town, Brenda would coach Preston’s basketball teams and cheer him on in other sports. Preston received his height from his father. The athleticism came from mom, a former track star at the University of Oklahoma.
“We were his biggest fans,” Dwayne says. “I have always had a healthy belief in his abilities. He was always a great athlete and just needed time to mature.”
Because of that belief, when Preston was leading all high school scorers in the DFW area but receiving little attention from colleges, Dwayne would tell anyone who listened that his son had the goods to be a terrific Division I basketball player. It wasn’t an educated guess. He just knew.
As it turns out, Dwayne Medlin was right.
As a sophomore, the 6-foot-4, wafer-thin (he’s generously listed at 160 pounds) Preston Medlin may be the best shooting guard in the Western Athletic Conference.
He’s evolved into Utah State’s best player, an all-around offensive weapon with range on his jumper and the quickness to beat people off the dribble. And if the Aggies are to make what would be a miracle run to the NCAA Tournament, it will be Medlin who leads them.
And his father will be there to take it all in.
Working for a kitchen and cabinet manufacturer, Dwayne Medlin travels frequently. Yet he and Brenda have been at almost every USU home game this season — no small feat for a family living in Carrolton, Texas.
“It means the world to me,” Preston Medlin said. “Being so far away, I get to see my parents every other weekend, and there aren’t many people in my shoes that are that lucky. Me and my father have always had a great relationship. He’s always been my greatest supporter at my games. He was always riding me, pushing me to get better.”
Brenda remembers moving to Texas from Illinois and seeing her son have to scratch and claw his way to respect on the court. Preston Medlin grows a beard each summer, but during the winter, when facial hair isn’t tolerated on Stew Morrill’s teams, he looks 15 and not at all imposing. That went for high school, too, where Medlin lost the looks battle every time he stepped on the floor. It was another hurdle that needed to be cleared.
“He had to prove himself at every level and for every team he played for,” Brenda said. “He’s always earned every accomplishment.”
Now, Medlin is considered USU’s biggest perimeter threat since the days of Jaycee Carroll. You can see similarities as well: the way Medlin comes off a screen, ready to fire; the way he can get hot and carry his team.
Last week in a near upset of Nevada, Medlin scored 13 points in the second half, hitting floaters in the lane and 3-pointers. He was dominant against Hawaii two weeks ago, outplaying the heralded Zane Johnson on both ends.
Medlin played pickup with and against Carroll this past summer on multiple occasions. Instead of running away from the comparisons, he itches to live up to them each time he takes the court.
“It’s fun playing with Preston because he can really put the ball into the basket,” starting small forward Danny Berger said. “He’s a great guy; he’s really humble. We need him to be aggressive.”
Medlin, in his first year as a starter, has always worked harder to beat the odds. He redshirted last season in order to put on weight. In doing so, the talk around the team was of how good he was in practice on the scout team and how all-league defenders Pooh Williams and Tyler Newbold had trouble guarding him.
When he was diagnosed with dyslexia in high school, he put in the extra work to make sure his grades didn’t suffer. It took him longer to get his work finished, but he’s consistently a 3.0 student at Utah State.
Medlin averages a team-leading 15 points per game. He also averages four assists and three rebounds per outing. As a sophomore, he leads a young team through the struggles of the post-Tai Wesley era.
But while most consider this a rebuilding season, Medlin sees the opportunity to make noise in the coming month.
“We know what we have to do,” Medlin said. “We have to win the WAC tournament. We have a chance to make a move. No way we’re going to give up on this season.”
Preston Medlin file
• Averages 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
• Redshirted last season.
• Played as a true freshman and scored eight points to help beat BYU.
• Averaged 22.5 points per game as a high school senior.
New Mexico State at Utah State
P At the Spectrum (Logan)
Tipoff • Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV • ESPN2
Radio • 97.5 FM
Records • New Mexico State 17-8, Utah State 13-12
Series record • Utah State leads 35-28
Last meeting • New Mexico State 80, Utah State 60
About New Mexico State • Wendell McKines is one of the best players in the league, averaging 18 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. … This is the 10th-oldest rivalry in Utah State history. … Hernst Laroche averages 11 points and 3.5 assists per game. … New Mexico State allows 68.7 points per game. … New Mexico State hasn’t won in Logan in six years.
About Utah State • Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed combined for 22 points in Thursday’s victory over Louisiana Tech. … The Aggies are 11-2 when they foul fewer than their opponents. … The Aggies are 4-3 this year when holding opponents under 60 points. … Brockeith Pane has 17 double-figure scoring games this season