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Bill Self voices optimism that Billy Preston will be able to play for Jayhawks

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Kansas forward Billy Preston (23) sits on the bench during the second half on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Billy Preston (23) sits on the bench during the second half on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Some Williams Fund members who heard Kansas basketball coach Bill Self speak Wednesday night at an event at Lawrence's Cider Gallery emerged optimistic that Billy Preston will play for the Jayhawks some time around the beginning of Big 12 play, which opens Dec. 29 in Austin vs. Texas.

Was what he said misinterpreted?

“No, I don’t think so,” Self said. “I am optimistic, but the thing of it is from an optimism standpoint, we don’t know how other people will view what we see or what we’ve done, but I think our school has done a great job getting all the information that could possibly be pertinent to his situation.”

Self said the school’s findings have not yet been handed over to the NCAA.

“You don’t know,” Self said. “They could come back and say, ‘No, we need more information.’ They could come back and say ‘Everything’s OK, good to go.’ They could come back and say, ‘No, it’s not good to go.’ Who knows what the response will be because it will be determined by somebody else, but the reality of it is us putting the entire package together from every scenario, we’ve done a good job. Hopefully, whatever information is given to the deciding parties, it will be a quick turnaround.”

Preston has practiced daily with the team but has not played in games, withheld because the athletic department has been conducting a probe into the “financial picture” of the Dodge Charger that Preston was driving when he was in a minor one-car accident. The late-model car Preston had been driving had expired temporary tags from Florida.

Preston played for Kansas in exhibitions in Italy and against Missouri, Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State.

Preston did not play in the season-opener vs. Tennessee State on Nov. 10 because, according to Self, he missed curfew and a class.

Preston’s accident occurred the night after the opener and on Nov. 14, in the hours leading up to KU’s game vs. Kentucky, Self released a statement explaining why Preston would not play in the game.

It read: “On Saturday, Billy was involved in a single-vehicle incident on campus. There were no injuries but Billy's car sustained damage. After I learned about the incident, I reported it to our administration. The administration determined that we needed a clearer financial picture specific to the vehicle (so) we decided to hold him out of tonight's game and will continue to do that until the review is complete. Needless to say, he was disappointed and crushed. He was very excited to make his KU debut. We hope to have the situation resolved as soon as possible.”

According to multiple people who heard Self talk Wednesday, the coach at one point said, "if and when," and then paused and said, "I should say when...”.

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