Freshman Billy Preston (right) participated in KU’s trip to Italy in August, then came back to Lawrence for his first Kansas basketball Boot Camp in September. Antonio Calanni The Associated Press
Freshman Billy Preston (right) participated in KU’s trip to Italy in August, then came back to Lawrence for his first Kansas basketball Boot Camp in September. Antonio Calanni The Associated Press

University of Kansas

Frosh Billy Preston pushes himself ‘past my limits’ at KU’s basketball Boot Camp

By Gary Bedore

gbedore@kcstar.com

September 27, 2017 06:23 PM

UPDATED September 28, 2017 11:52 AM

LAWRENCE

Billy Preston survived his first Kansas basketball Boot Camp with a little help from his friends.

“With my teammates behind me and the coaching staff behind me … everybody in the gym basically at 6:15 in the morning to 7:15 has got your back,” Preston, the Jayhawks’ 6-foot-10, 240-pound freshman forward from Los Angeles said Wednesday after completing the eighth and final Boot Camp conditioning workout of the 2017-18 school year.

“I just got past it and pushed myself past my limits,” Preston added.

Preston drew the praise of coach Bill Self after Friday’s fifth workout, which like the rest consisted of an hour’s worth of sprints, defensive slides and backboard touches.

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“He’s been a warrior, stud. He does everything hard,” Self said of the McDonald’s All-American, who averaged 15.3 points and 10.4 rebounds a game last season, his senior season at Oak Hill Academy. “He’s not scared of it. He’s embracing it where some of the other guys were a little nervous.”

On Wednesday, at the conclusion of Boot Camp, Self lauded bigs Preston and Udoka Azubuike, saying: “They did great. They did very well.”

Preston was glad to hear that Self was pleased.

“He challenged me a lot. I mean he wants a lot out of me,” Preston said. “I expected him to get on me, make me go even harder, push me past my limits. The only thing I didn’t do is back down from the challenge. I felt good going into Boot Camp, and now that it’s over I feel even better. I feel me and coach Self’s relationship is growing each and every day, each and every practice. I’m acclimated very well in the system. It’s all coming along.”

Preston said Boot Camp was as tough as advertised.

“This is probably the toughest (thing I’ve experienced in basketball). I’ve been through a lot of conditioning, but that college-level experience, especially with coach Self … it is different and it was tough,” Preston said.

Seven-foot sophomore center Azubuike, meanwhile, said he was happy to be able to go through an entire Boot Camp this year. He was slowed by a minor injury last year at this time.

Udoka Azubuike on the end of KU basketball Boot Camp

KU sophomore Udoka Azubuike and his Jayhawks basketball teammates completed an eight-day Boot Camp conditioning program on Wednesday.

Gary Bedore The Kansas City Star

“I only did two days of Boot Camp last year,” Azubuike said. “This year it’s about energy, it’s about your mind-set, all that. I kind of went in with the intention it’s not all about strength, it’s all about mind. I went in trying to run and compete and help my teammates out.”

Azubuike said he weighs about 273 right now.

“I’m in pretty good shape,” stated Azubuike, a native of Nigeria. “I am not 100 percent full shape. I am way better than I was last week or the previous month. I feel real good about myself.”

Self was definitely pleased with performance of his entire team, which will rest Thursday and Friday in advance of Saturday night’s Late Night in the Phog.

“Boot Camp was excellent,” Self said. “The guys did a fantastic job. I was pleasantly surprised on how well they did and stuck together. Everybody made their times (in sprints). Not one guy missed their time.”

Brennan Bechard is master of half-court shot at Late Night in the Phog

Kansas director of basketball operations Brennan Bechard hit the shot in consecutive years for students Jerrod Martin Castro of Topeka and Jordan Stiers of Independence, Mo., making each student $10,000 richer during Late Night in the Phog in Lawrence.

Monty Davis, Rich Sugg, Shelly Yang, and Gary Bedore The Kansas City Star

Langford to visit KU

Romeo Langford, a 6-4 senior shooting guard from New Albany (Ind.) High School will make an official visit to KU on Oct. 27-29, according to 247sports.com and Rivals.com.

He’s Rivals.com’s No. 6-rated player in the recruiting class of 2018 and has a list of KU, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA, Indiana and Louisville.

Langford will visit North Carolina on Oct. 13 and make an unofficial visit to Indiana on Oct. 21. It has been speculated Louisville could be eliminated because of Tuesday’s news of an FBI investigation involving the program.