BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Drenched in sweat and giddy with excitement, Billy Preston carried his MVP trophy off the court after helping Team Do Bee Do beat Team EZ Pass, 111-110, in Under Armour’s thrilling Elite 24 game Saturday.
Preston recorded a double-double to share team MVP with Frank Jackson.
The trophy was heavy, and Preston was somewhat drained after a summer circuit filled with tournaments, skills camps and all-star festivities — but it didn’t matter. No one could wipe the smile off of the face of the top-10 prospect in the Class of 2017.
“It really is tiring — I didn’t skip a game this summer,” Preston told USA TODAY Sports. “My intention was to dominate. I feel like I did that. Winning this game, the last one of the summer, being MVP, I feel like my summer was great.”
Preston now heads back to Dallas, where he and his family had moved last January in order for him to attend Prime Prep, which is now defunct. Preston is among the players who agreed to be homeschooled and compete as Prime U for the 2015-16 basketball season.
Preston said he is finally settling in in Dallas — he’s planning on getting a dog soon — and is “not looking to go anywhere else.” This, on the heels of two transfers in two years, from St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif., to Redondo Union and then to Prime Prep.
Despite bouncing around quite a bit, Preston’s stock has only continued to rise. The 6-9, 220-pound star doesn’t constrain himself by position; he considers himself versatile, meaning he’s equally comfortable on the perimeter and in the paint.
“I bring a presence,” he said.
Preston credits his godmother, Timicha Kirby, with his development to date.
Kirby, who played college ball at Iowa, formed an AAU team for Preston and continues to work with him in the gym almost every day. Kirby is also the longtime partner of Nicole Player, Preston’s mother. They’ve been together since Preston was five.
“If it wasn’t for (Kirby), I probably wouldn’t be in this position right now,” he said. “I’d always played basketball, but I never took it seriously. It’s all her. … She played every position — forward, guard, center — just like me.”
Preston, a five-star prospect rated sixth in the class of 2017 by Rivals.com, has already accumulated more than a dozen high-major offers. He said he’s not planning to announce his commitment anytime soon.