Preslar has hung in ther for Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com

Preslar has hung in ther for Nevada

THOMAS RANSON
Appeal News Service

If she wanted to, Jessica Preslar could probably handle a basic training course in the military with surprising ease.

Her intimidating, 6-foot-1 frame running back and forth scoring and rebounding on the hardwood might scare opponents trying to guard the Nevada senior forward. Lasting for four seasons in the Kim Gervasoni era, however, has almost been impossible.

“There’s times when both those kids (Preslar and senior guard Tracy Graham) maybe felt like giving up because it was hard. It’s still hard,” Gervasoni, the Pack’s head coach, said. “To me, it shows their loyalty and their respect.”

Nevertheless, Preslar still flies down the court, awaiting a pass in the key or getting ready to swat an opponent’s shot. She will get that one last opportunity to show fans in Reno why opponents dread No. 23.

“You’ve seen games when Jess is just unstoppable. Jess comes with that mentality,” Gervasoni said. “She’s an amazing player, a great rebounder, and she’s athletic. Her versatility, offensively, has helped us.”

Preslar, along with Graham and Evelina Janisyte, will play their last home game of the season at Lawlor Events Center when Nevada hosts Utah State tonight at 7 p.m. The Wolf Pack, though, has one more game on the road (New Mexico State on Saturday) before the Western Athletic Conference tournament next week in Las Cruces, N.M.

Becki Little and Jocelyn Mancebo saw their careers end abruptly when Little was diagnosed with a heart condition and Mancebo with a brain tumor. Both seniors will join their teammates in the pre-game ceremonies.

Preslar and Graham, though, have been through a lot together with the Wolf Pack when both were recruited by former coach Ada Gee five years ago. Since then, they’ve helped Gervasoni rebuild the team into one of the top women’s basketball programs in the WAC.

“They’ve seen the program go through a lot, a lot of positive change, a lot of hardship and adversity,” Gervasoni said. “They will always, in my mind, be a part of the Lady Pack foundation. They were instrumental.”

Graham and Preslar also played tournament ball against each other in Sacramento during high school.

“We used to play them in tournaments in Sacramento. It was pretty cool,” Graham said. “I didn’t know she actually committed and signed. She’s such a great influence. She’s a leader and an all-around player.”

Gervasoni admires Preslar’s work ethic and improvement since her freshman year in 2003.

“Jess has wanted to be more consistent, and we’ve wanted her to be more consistent,” Gervasoni said. “She’s been pretty consistent in practice and with her work ethic and leadership. She’s been a great example to all the kids underneath her for what it takes every day in practice.”

The fourth-year coach said Preslar’s mentality and focus have helped her become the player she is now.

“That’s what you hope for by their senior year is to be consistent,” Gervasoni added. “Freshman year, it’s hard to be focused and you don’t know what to expect. You don’t know the conference and don’t know how to win on the road. Now we know how to win on the road. She’s really grown a lot and helped changed the mentality of the program.”

Preslar is still trying to accept the fact that her career is coming to a close this month.

“It’s amazing how fast it goes. You don’t realize it until you get to your last couple of games in conference,” she said.

But the Roseville, Calif., native doesn’t want her career to stop at Nevada. Preslar said she wants to either play overseas or coach.

“She (Gervasoni) is going to try and get me overseas. I would love to,” Preslar, a general studies major with an emphasis on human development and family studies, said. “I love the game and want to stay in it as long as I can. I can explore a different culture and have fun over there.”