LAWRENCE — Bill Self is “optimistic” the ongoing situation surrounding withheld Kansas basketball freshman Billy Preston will be resolved, perhaps as soon as the start of Big 12 play.
That hope, though, comes with a caveat.
“The thing about it is, from an optimism standpoint, we don’t know how other people will view what we see or what we’ve done,” Self said Thursday. “But I think our school has done a great job in getting all the information that could possibly be pertinent in (Preston’s) situation.”
Preston, who has yet to make his collegiate debut, has missed the No. 13 Jayhawks’ last eight games as the university’s compliance department seeks a “clearer financial picture” regarding a vehicle the 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward was driving at the time of a Nov. 11 single-car accident on campus.
KU, which begins Big 12 play Dec. 29 at Texas, is nearing completion into its look into the Preston matter, Self indicated, though as of Thursday the school had yet to forward its information to the NCAA.
“The other thing you don’t know, (the NCAA) could come back and say, ‘No, we need more information,’ (or) ‘Everything’s good to go,’ (or) ‘No, it’s not good to go,’ ” Self said. “Who knows what the response will be, because it will be determined by somebody else.”
After saying last week he’s never “had a situation where I’ve dealt with this like we have since I’ve been here,” Self praised the university for its handling of the Preston matter.
“The reality of it is, us putting the total package together from every scenario, I think we’ve done a good job,” Self said. “Hopefully whatever information that is given to the deciding parties, it’ll be a quick turnaround, but we don’t know that either.”
Preston, a former five-star prospect and the No. 11-ranked recruit in the Class of 2017 at Rivals, was also withheld from the Jayhawks’ season opener on Nov. 10 after missing curfew the night before and class on game day. In his absence, KU (7-2) has been playing with two true bigs — 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike and 6-8 forward Mitch Lightfoot.
Relief, though, could be on the way — even if the Preston news isn’t what the program hopes.
Silvio De Sousa, a 6-9, 220-pound forward and another five-star recruit in the Class of 2018, is attempting to reclassify to join the Jayhawks for the second semester. The No. 25-ranked prospect in his class, De Sousa is awaiting a key test result Friday that will provide more clarity to his path forward.
Self said the process to get De Sousa eligible is already underway, but added obtaining information on some of the prospect’s schooling has been a challenge.
“The thing with Silvio that’s unique is we’re dealing with Angola,” Self said of De Sousa’s home country in Africa. “Our ability to either speak French or Portuguese in a way that we have received additional information to basically help him has been somewhat limited.”
De Sousa is in “pretty good shape,” Self thinks, when it comes to his standardized test and end-of-semester exams at IMG Academy, but there are still “some things to be done” through his home country that remain obstacles.
“We’ve been working on this for a while and we’ve gotten down to the 11th hour obviously that, if a youngster can be eligible, we want him here sooner rather than later,” Self said. “He can be eligible and have him not cleared until Jan. 10. He can be eligible and maybe be cleared before Christmas. So that’s what we’re working on.”
Self said it also remains possible that De Sousa could be ruled ineligible or simply choose to remain at IMG Academy.
Regardless, it’s a situation everyone involved hopes is clarified soon.
“There’s some things and some answers that will take place,” Self said. “There’s questions, but the answers will probably take place I would say in the next week to 10 days.”