Billy Preston never got a chance to play at Kansas after signing as one of the most ballyhooed recruits of the Class of 2017. Still, he will have a shot at his NBA dream.
After going unselected in the NBA draft, Preston has signed a free-agent contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After he arrived at Lawrence, Preston was involved in a car accident that resulted in him leaving the Jayhawks program. That accident led the NCAA to investigate his eligibility, and he never played with the Jayhawks.
The former 5-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American resurfaced for BC Igokea of the Adriatic League. Preston played three games before sustaining an injury that forced him to leave the Bosnian club.
Billy Preston was a mystery to NBA scouts
That lack of playing time made some NBA scouts skeptical — or at least unsure — about his abilities. Preston didn’t help himself by declining to play in 5-on-5 games during the NBA’s draft combine in May.
The move isn’t a surprise to Kansas coach Bill Self, though.
“Billy’s first-round talent and we’ve had more than one team tell us that,” Self told KUSports.com. “But they haven’t seen him. [That] hurt him. There’s no question about that, as far as the draft goes. But what happens in 2018 isn’t going to define whether you’re a pro in 2026 and the objective is to have a career not a paycheck.”
The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Preston has strong outside shooting ability that should enable him to play as a stretch power forward at the next level. His journey begins early next month when he joins the Cavaliers’ team in the Las Vegas summer league.
The Cavaliers likely are hoping that his skills, along with those of Cavaliers’ top draft pick Collin Sexton, could sway LeBron James to remain with the team.
Preston has been compared with James in the past, even wearing his jersey number in high school. His ability to develop at the next level would be bolstered by learning from James.