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Kansas freshman Billy Preston signs with European pro team

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

By DAVE SKRETTA

AP Sports Writer

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Kansas freshman Billy Preston has signed with a professional team in Bosnia, ending any chance the five-star prospect whose eligibility has been in question for months will play for the Jayhawks.

Preston was expected to start for Kansas, but was suspended for the season opener for a violation of team rules. He was involved in a car accident on campus in early November, and that raised red flags about the ownership of the vehicle he was driving.

Kansas has been working with the NCAA in an attempt to clear Preston, but those efforts appeared to be going nowhere. So, the 6-foot-10 forward decided to begin his professional career overseas.

He will play for BC Igokea, a club in the Adriatic Basketball Association.

"Billy's family has been very upfront telling us his first choice was to stay at Kansas," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said in a statement Saturday. "But with the uncertainty of the situation, they needed to look at other potential options. This opportunity in Bosnia came with a deadline for a decision."

Self said Preston and his family, along with a lawyer, made the choice on Friday.

"We are thrilled to welcome Billy Preston to our Club," BC Igokea general manager Igor Dodik said in a statement. "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 was one of the nation's top prospects coming out of venerable Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. He was chosen for the McDonald's All-American Game and wound up choosing the Jayhawks over overtures from Indiana, Syracuse and Southern California.

The Jayhawks were counting on him to provide an inside presence along with sophomore Udoka Azubuike, leaving them short on depth this season. They recently got freshman forward Silvio de Sousa eligible, but he graduated from high school in December and his contributions are limited.

The No. 10 Jayhawks play Baylor on Saturday night.

"We are all disappointed that Billy never had the opportunity to experience college basketball competition," Self said, "but we certainly support him and wish him the best. Although he has been frustrated with the situation, Billy's attitude has been tremendous and he has developed as a person and as a player. I'm sure that will continue as he prepares for his professional career."

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Updated January 20, 2018

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