Many of the nation’s foremost Under Armour-affiliated recruits are heading to New York for the Elite 24 event Aug. 21, including five-star class of 2017 power forward Billy Preston (Prime Prep/Dallas, Texas). But before the Santa Ana, Calif., native made his way to the Big Apple, he and his mother, Nicole Preston, stopped by one of his main college suitors, the University of Maryland.
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound combo, who played with Maryland commit Anthony Cowan (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) on the Under Armour circuit this summer, has held a Terps’ offer since last year, with head coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Dustin Clark in contact even before that. The pair hosted the Prestons for their initial College Park, Md., foray Aug. 19.
“We both really loved it,” said Nicole Preston immediately after the visit. “We didn’t know too too much about Maryland coming in, but from what we learned [Aug. 19], we loved it. It was awesome. I’d say Maryland is definitely on Billy’s mind right now; the visit really opened his eyes to Maryland basketball.”
Naturally, Preston spent plenty of time with the staff. Turgeon, Clark and the others gave their pitch, detailing Maryland’s history and also what to expect in College Park.
“The coaches pretty much gave us the history of Maryland basketball, and then talked about the future of Maryland basketball and where they see it heading. They talked to Billy about how he’d fit in and could help take the program to another level,” Nicole Preston said. “I think Billy really took all that in and was very impressed.
“He didn’t give too much of an opinion, but I think he really respected what the coaches were saying. He liked how they graduated athletes who have gone on to make millions of dollars in the NBA, and how they have developed big men. Coach Turgeon, he believes Billy can be another impact player in his program, and the fact he’s saying that now, two years before Billy graduates, that meant a lot.”
Nicole Preston said her son was especially taken by UMD’s rich history, while the school’s academics hit home as well. Mrs. Preston said her son is focused on education and doesn’t just want to go to college purely for basketball.
“Billy loved every minute of it, just learning about Maryland,” Nicole Preston said. “He didn’t know John Lucas went there, and that really hit home with him. John Lucas is someone he’s looked up to since junior high, and when he saw his picture on the wall, he lit up. That really did something for Billy.
“And when we spoke to some academic counselors, that was music to his ears too. The amount of support they get at Maryland, I think they graduated 19 players from the teams Coach Turgeon has had and have like a 100 percent graduation rate.”
Preston and his mother also had a chance to tour the school, take in the Xfinity Center and check out the upgraded player dorms.
“The Xfinity Center was awesome, and we were amazed,” Nicole Preston said. “It’s one of the biggest arenas we’ve been to; it was very impressive. We would love to come back for a game and see that place in all of its glory. We want to see the team in action and get back there when it’s packed, definitely.”
While Preston certainly learned quite a bit Aug. 19, he already had some knowledge of Maryland hoops. He was well aware of Diamond Stone, Melo Trimble and Anthony Cowan, whom he played with this summer.
“The recruits coming in and the state of the program now, it opened Billy’s eyes,” Nicole Preston said. “He’s really impressed by what Maryland has to offer.”
Emerging Maryland does have plenty of competition for Preston’s services. Kansas, which the Prestons have also visited, is considered a prime contender. As are some of his hometown California schools, namely UCLA, another program that’s offered and Preston has seen firsthand. He’s also been to UNLV and USC.
Preston holds offers from Arizona, USC, UConn, Arizona State, SMU, Oregon, Baylor and others.
“Right now I would say everyone is pretty equal,” Nicole Preston said. “But I think when he’s comfortable with a school and finds the right fit, he’ll make his decision. I think he’ll narrow down his list at some point this fall, and I would think sometime next year he’ll be ready to decide.”
Terps Trip 'Opens Preston's Eyes'
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