The Drew League’s “Just Do It” series will highlight how members of the extended Drew League family use the Drew as a platform for making their craziest dreams happen through the game of basketball and life.
No one upholds the legendary status of the Drew League quite like George Preciado, who has served as the announcer since 1997. Preciado switches back and forth from play-by-play to hoops analyst to general public announcer to scolding hot take artist to historical reference – and that’s before the money quarter even gets started.
The man with the mic at the Drew, Preciado is much more likely to be heard before he is seen. So it may be a surprise to some that Preciado had no ambitions of being the voice of the Drew League – or an announcer anywhere.
“I had been a fan of the Drew League—I never thought about announcing,” Preciado says as he recalled how he became the voice of the best pro-am league in the country. “Not in my wildest dreams would I ever thought I’d be an announcer at the Drew League starting off as a fan.”
Preciado’s first Drew League experience came back in the summer of 1987, back when he was nine years old. Cold As Ice and the Cheaters faced each other in the Drew League championship game that year, a matchup that featured Russell Brown and Casper Ware Sr. Preciado would go to the Drew with his brothers at first, but eventually started going on his own.
“To be honest, I wanted to be an NBA player,” Preciado said. “But you know, once I got out of middle school, I knew I couldn’t achieve that. I always knew I wanted to be around basketball, but I didn’t know I was going to be an announcer at the Drew League.”
By 1997, the Drew League hadn’t had an announcer for multiple seasons. “Still Bill” Crawford, the original announcer at the Drew, had left the post due to medical reasons. Preciado asked Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley for a job, but nothing specific, just a job in the community that Smiley could refer Preciado for. Smiley had a big role for Preciado, though.
“I was nervous, I couldn’t believe I was announcing at the Drew,” said Preciado, who took over in the second week of the 1997 season. “I can’t say it was a dream come true because I never thought about announcing. But I couldn’t believe I was announcing players like Casper Ware Sr., John Williams—legends of the game in California.”
Preciado felt like he had “arrived” when players such as Allen Caveness told him how much they looked forward to Preciado announcing their games. Preciado gave Caveness his “Houdini” nickname, and also gave Chris Young the “Ghetto Bird” nickname, and Preciado felt like he had received a blessing from the legends of the game. But even that blessing pales in comparison to the confidence Smiley imparted onto Preciado in the first place.
“I didn’t have no self-esteem back then,” Preciado says. “I was pretty much to myself. Low self-esteem, going through depression. Dino just gave me daylight, you know, to free my mind.
To this day, Preciado says he and Smiley can’t recall why he was asked to be an announcer when Preciado gave no indication that he’d be interested in such an endeavor – or even good at it.
“It’s so random how it came about,” said Preciado. “Nobody seen this coming—my friends, my family, former players that I grew up with. Never would have thought this. I was the shyest one.
“Now, when I get on that mic, it seems like I’m the most talkative one. But that’s far from my character. I’m real down low, low-key with it.”
Preciado currently works as a campus aide at a school in Maywood, Calif., and he has been a campus aide for 18 years. Preciado seems content with that and being the announcer at the Drew, saying “I’m not trying to get out of character.”
But Preciado is also humbled by what he’s been able to do for 21 years.
“It’s changed my life dramatically,” Preciado says of the Drew League. “It’s a lifesaver … changed my life completely.”