In one breath, Advanced Prep International junior forward Billy Preston — one of the nation’s top Class of 2017 recruits — tells the Glasgow Daily Times not to read too much into his University of Kentucky sweatshirt, telling the Kentucky-based paper, “I usually try to buy something to wear from the schools I go to visit.”
And in the next breath, Preston really, really wants that offer from Wildcats coach John Calipari.
“Anybody is going to wait for an offer from Kentucky,” Preston said. “I have 13 offers now and I am going to narrow that down to six in the next few months.”
“Nobody is going to cut down a list without having a spot for Kentucky. If they offer, they are on the list no matter when it is,” Preston said.
Well, that oughta instill some confidence in the recruiting coordinators at Arizona, UConn, Kansas, UCLA and the host of other schools that have already offered Preston, because it sure sounds like he likes the Wildcats.
Preston made an unofficial visit to Kentucky on Saturday morning, watching a practice along with API teammate Trevon Duval — the country’s top-ranked Class of 2017 point guard — before meeting Calipari, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. That’s when Preston made his intentions clear to the media.
“Look at their history,” Preston said. “Kentucky is the type of school where, if you’re a one-and-done player, you’re going to go there, do what you have to do and go pro.
“And that’s what I would want to do. Every player’s dream is to play professional basketball. If you’re really that good and have that ability to go one and done, then why not go there and develop your game for a few months and go pro.”
Under Calipari’s watchful eye, Kentucky has been touted as the place to go for swift NBA grooming. In the 2015 NBA draft alone, six Wildcats were selected, including four lottery picks and No. 1 overall selection Karl-Anthony Towns — a freshman, naturally. And we’re now at the stage where high school players are openly discussing their one-and-done prospects at Kentucky before they even get an offer from the university.
As for that offer, it’s not a matter of “if” for Preston, but “when.”
“Like I said, no player is going to cut it down without Kentucky being on the list,” he said. “When I get that offer, I’m definitely going to consider them heavily.”
After visiting the Lexington campus, Preston dropped 22 points on Class of 2016 phenom Thon Maker and Ontario’s Athlete Institute, 71-67, at the Thoroughbred Classic at Pulaski County High in nearby Somerset, Ky. He then battled No. 1 overall Class of 2017 recruit DeAndre Ayton, fellow top-10 junior recruit Jarred Vanderbilt and Arizona’s Hillcrest Academy in an 88-81 loss at the same tournament on Sunday.
According to the Herald-Leader, Preston’s mother was telling fans in the stands at the Thoroughbred Classic that she would also like to see her son playing for the Wildcats in 2017.
“She definitely is a Kentucky fan,” Preston said. “We keep up with Kentucky. We’ve been watching the whole season so far. A player in this era, you can’t make a final decision without having Kentucky in there, if you have an offer from them. It’s just one of those type of schools.”
Maker, Ayton and Vanderbilt all already own offers from Kentucky. Preston still does not. Neither Calipari nor his coaches scouted the tournament, according to local media reports, despite an off day on Sunday.
Insert sad face emoji here.
A word of advice: In high school, you never want to appear desperate, and Preston certainly seems to see Calipari as the prettiest girl in school, so maybe next time he’s playing an hour-and-a-half from Lexington, he should just go around telling, “Guys, I definitely don’t want to go one-and-done at Kentucky. Definitely not.”