SAN ANTONIO – Before Kansas set foot on the floor this season, it was no stretch to say the team’s fortunes would rest on the shoulders of blue-chip newcomer Billy Preston.
Turns out, he never played a minute.
Sidelined by Kansas after a one-car, on-campus accident in November triggered an investigation into how he acquired the vehicle, Preston wound up in Europe in a detour that was nothing more than a dead end.
As a McDonalds All-American and the eighth-ranked prospect in the country when he came out of Oak Hill Academy, Preston went to Kansas with the potential to make himself a “one-and-doner,” going to the NBA after one college season.
Now, though? “I don’t want to say he’s ruled out of being drafted. That’s not accurate,” said Jonathan Givony, a longtime draft analyst. “But I don’t think he’s helped his cause with the circumstance he’s in right now.”
After a troublesome 2016-17 Jayhawks season that included a reported rape at the dormitory that houses the basketball team, coach Bill Self decided to hold Preston out of Kansas’ season opener for missing curfew. Preston told Self he was late because he had illegally parked his car.
The next day, the car came up again. According to the KU athletic department, Preston’s car hit a curb on campus, resulting in minor damage to his tires. There was no property damage and nobody was hurt.
But KU held Preston out of the next game, against Kentucky, to get what Self called a “clearer financial picture” about Preston’s car.
Preston didn’t play for Kansas again. The investigation dragged on for more than two months — and he gave up to play professionally in Europe.
Preston would play only three games for a team in Bosnia, returning home after suffering a shoulder injury. He has been seen in San Antonio this week, hanging around in and near the Kansas team hotel.
Up close and personal
The Alamodome has an elevated floor, and twice Michigan standout Moe Wagner tumbled over it and into the stands against Loyola Chicago.
Once, chasing a loose ball, he jumped at the CBS broadcast crew of Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery and a terrified-looking Grant Hill. Wagner wasn’t hurt, but he did take out Raftery’s glasses.
“I’m sorry Coach,” Wagner told Raftery, who took the damage in stride.
• Loyola Chicago’s Marques Townes was hobbled after coming down awkwardly on his left knee while missing badly on a three-point shot in the second half against Michigan. Townes was on the bench when the Wolverines tied it at 47-47 at the 6:56 mark, though he re-entered with 6:20 left after trying to stretch it out on the bench and convincing coach Porter Moses he was OK to return.
• Ramblers superfan Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt had prime seats, with the 98-year-old drawing applause and gawkers as she arrived courtside on Saturday about an hour before the first semifinal.
• Not only did Villanova set the record for three-pointers in a Final Four game with 18, but the Wildcats also set the single-season record. They have 454 threes with a game remaining. VMI had the old record, with 442 threes in 2006-07.