Following the recent signing of swingman Darington Hobson, the Illawarra Hawks announced their next import in 22 year old American forward Billy Preston, who will join the team this week along with Hobson. Preston's potential signing was reported last week by the Illawarra Mercury's Mitch Jennings, before official news broke on Monday morning.
This NBL season won't be the first time Preston has been on the same court with soon-to-be teammate LaMelo Ball. Back in 2017, Ball's Chino Hills Huskies had played against Preston's Oak Hill Academy in the Nike Extravaganza showcase, that resulted in a 91-96 defeat, behind Preston's 16-point, 21-rebound performance.
Preston, who looked like a rising star with his 7'1 wingspan and prolific scoring capabilities, had committed to the Kansas Jayhawks, and due to his involvement in a car accident on campus, had his college career terminated before it even began. The 6'10 forward moved on and made his professional debut with KK Igokea in Bosnia, but made an early exit due to persistent shoulder soreness. He then announced for, and went undrafted during the NBA 2018 draft.
Preston then signed a two-way deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers' G League affiliate, the Canton Charge in July last year. He was subsequently waived, and moved to the Eric BayHawks, who are affiliated with the Atlanta Hawks. Preston eventually signed with the Dallas Mavericks' affiliate, the Texas Legends. In total, the forward played 27 G League games over the three teams, averaging 7.1 points, 4.4 rebounds over 17.6 minutes played.
Preston was also invited to the NBA's G League Elite Camp in May, which was marketed as a three-day scouting event featuring top G League prospects, as well as 2019 draft hopefuls.
The Illawarra Hawks are currently at the bottom of the ladder with a 3-10 record, and face Melbourne United at the WIN Entertainment Centre on Monday night.
Next Star LaMelo Ball missed the team's last game against the Brisbane Bullets on Saturday due to a sore foot, and was held out.
"We're still waiting to hear on that," Hawks head coach, Matt Flinn said on Sunday. "I'm not sure, I need to talk to the medical team and [see] what's happening around that space. [From] what I do know it's not too serious, hopefully, so we can get him back as soon as possible."