University of Kansas

Billy Preston signs with Bosnian professional team, leaves KU without playing a game

KU coach Bill Self speaks about Billy Preston leaving the Jayhawks

KU basketball coach Bill Self talked Saturday night, Jan. 20, after KU beat Baylor, about Billy Preston leaving the team to play professionally in Bosnia.
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KU basketball coach Bill Self talked Saturday night, Jan. 20, after KU beat Baylor, about Billy Preston leaving the team to play professionally in Bosnia.

Billy Preston’s career at Kansas is over.

The freshman forward signed a contract with BC Igokea of Bosnia on Saturday, ending a long process of him waiting for his amateur status to be cleared by the NCAA.

KU coach Bill Self said he knew for about three weeks that Preston was considering the overseas contract. That offer came with a specific deadline.

“We were just hoping we could have (NCAA) closure to eliminate that outcome,” Self said. “With the uncertainty of it, it didn’t come as a shock to us.”

Preston, who sat out KU’s first game for missing curfew and class according to Self, was not allowed to play KU’s next game against Kentucky on Nov. 15 while the school looked into the “financial picture” regarding his vehicle after a one-car accident on campus. Preston sat out the next 16 games after that while the situation was being investigated.

Self said he and the staff had discussed different scenarios for Preston over the past few weeks. He said KU delivered its findings on Preston’s situation to the NCAA just before Christmas.

“Just to be real clear, so fans don’t think that people are at fault, it was a situation where it took some time to get the information to them (the NCAA) in a final package,” Self said. “ ... But then there were follow-up deals, ‘We have more questions. We have more things.’ We were hoping that there could be a resolution to it. We thought we were getting real close.”

Self indicated the NCAA told KU it wasn’t ready to make a final determination on Preston’s case.

“I don’t blame anybody, to be honest with you,” Self said. “I just hate it. I hate it for him, because he didn’t get a chance to experience what college basketball is all about.”

Self was asked by a reporter if KU fans could feel confident knowing that this matter would be closed without involving potential NCAA violations or infractions involving Adidas.

“I believe so, but I don’t know how the inner workings of the NCAA works on reinstatement cases. I don’t understand that,” Self said. “I do know that obviously, he didn’t play, so there’s not a situation with forfeiting games. There’s none of that. If there is a positive of this situation, I would think that it’s in the hands of the NCAA. I’ve got to believe they feel like we’ve been totally up front and presented all the information to them and that kind of stuff to the point where they wouldn’t look at us in a negative way whatsoever.”

In a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday, Preston said he and his family “have fully cooperated with the NCAA and were prepared to continue but it has been 67 days since this process began, and still no end in sight.”

BC Igokea announced the signing Saturday.

“We are honored to have such a tremendous talent in our organization,” the team said in a release. “We were watching his situation closely and reached out to his family to show interest and ultimately reached an Agreement with the family Attorney in California on a contract for the rest of the season. We know Billy is an NBA prospect so we will do our best to continue his development to help him excel for our club and fulfill his goal which is to be an NBA star in the near future.”

Preston did not play in any of KU’s 18 regular-season games during his only season.

“It’s been too long,” Nicole Player, Preston’s mother, told ESPN. “They didn’t have an answer and weren’t prepared to give us answers. He just wants to play.”

Bill Self comments on the Jayhawks' narrow escape Saturday against Baylor.

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell

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