Drew Preuninger is coming home, so to speak.
Preuninger, who was hired last week to coach the Hermiston boys basketball team, lived seven years in the Hermiston-Umatilla area as a young boy.
His family moved away when he was 8 years old.
“My dad (Scott) coached in Umatilla (he led the Vikings to a state title in 1997), but we lived in Hermiston,” Preuninger said. “There’s still a few families there my parents talk to.”
Preuninger, 29, takes over for Casey Arstein, who stepped down after the season for personal reasons. In three seasons, Arstein had a 43-28 record.
Along with Arstein, the Bulldogs also lose six talented seniors, leaving the cupboard a bit bare for Preuninger.
“Throughout my coaching career, I’ve built from the ground up,” Preuninger said. “We start with the fundamentals and get them to play as a team.”
Preuninger comes to Hermiston with an impressive portfolio.
He played high school basketball at Camas, and is the all-time career leader at Camas with 380 assists and 88 games played.
He then played four years at Concordia University, where he finished his career on top of the career list for made 3-pointers for the Cavaliers with 213 (in 103 games). He also set a single-season record at Concordia with 89 3-pointers his senior year (2011-12).
He also holds the single-season record for free throws made at 90.9 percent (40 of 44).
In 2015, he was hired as the head coach of the Heritage boys team, taking over for his dad, Scott. He stepped down in 2017 for personal reasons.
Preuninger dabbled in real estate for a year, but he missed the game and coaching.
Shoot360, which is based in Vancouver, Washington, asked if he would like to work with their program in Indiana.
“I jumped at the opportunity to get back into what I love doing,” he said. “The timing was perfect because it led me to teaching again and now to Hermiston.”
He’s only been in Indiana for nine months, but Preuninger is ready to get back to the Northwest.
“School is out May 28 here, then I’m coming back,” he said. “I’ll live with my aunt in Kennewick until I get settled.”
Preuninger said he knows he is inheriting a young team, but believes he is the right man to lead the program.
“I’m only 29,” he said. “I think I can bring excitement every day. I’m a gym rat.”
Preuninger, who is teaching math in Indiana, will do the same at Hermiston until a full-time PE job opens up.
He said he also is excited to become part of the Hermiston community again.
“I haven’t met (athletic director) Larry Usher in person, but I can tell we will get along fine,” Preuninger said.
“And, I’m going to dive into their youth basketball program. That’s where it all starts.”