Billy Preston and the Motor Thing

  • John Wooden wanted players with “fire in the belly.” He said he could teach such players to control themselves, because he had been such a young man. Competitive fury could be turned into competitive greatness–the cap stone of his pyramid of success… Building a fire in a player seemed not a task Wooden mastered and he had tried a few times over the years, he said.

    In the contemporary era, the politically correct word for fire in the belly is motor. The player has a good motor. He has a big motor.

    Thomas Robinson had a big motor. It was so huge Self had to reinforce his motor mounts for his freshman season just to keep him from fouling out. TRob came with a crated 426 Hemi fro out of the past. It was in credibly rough and powerful. Self had to tune it down to keep it from shaking him and the team apart.

    Not all motors are big and rough. Josh Jackson came with a compact ZO-6 from a Corvette that can purr before it shrieks and winds out.

    Some powerful motors are even balanced and muffled and you aren’t sure they are big motors. Perry Ellis was like that. Self spent a full two years running Perry’s motor out of its range down on the blocks. It lugged and he thought he just needed to take the mufflers off. He found later it ran best outside. Outside it revved like a stripe-ed assed ape, my salty tongued Marine Corp dad would have said borrowing vernacular from having run a motor transport battalion in WWII…

    Joel Embiid was a freak. He had a huge flipping Mercedes diesel tuned to use brute force torque to run fast in an agile chassis with quick feet in wide sticky treads. Mercedes and Audi made a few of these racing oddities to prove diesels weren’t just for hauling trailers.

    Danny Manning had the true everything motor–the silky smooth V12 that could roar down the straights and scream through the curves. It was so vibration free LB could stand a penny on edge on Danny’s shoulder and it didn’t tip over even in a fast break. It had power in the low blocks and could run the floor. He could smoke tires or hum.

    But now to Allen International Raceway comes Billy Preston from Oak Hill Basketball Fac, er, Academy–him of the questioned motor displacement. Preston has it all but the vaunted smoke belcher–the praised CO1 factory–the hefty hunk of burnin’ junk at the center of the thoracic cavity–the v-10 stump puller–the Ford 427 side oiler–the MOTOR.

    Self calls PRESTON Marcus MORRIS, as a freshman, which means he could play everywhere that you don’t need more than a 36 inch vertical, but do need to rebound and drive the lane from high post. Never mind that Billy’s coach says Preston can PLAY above the backboard box already, and shoot the Trey, pretty much the way Perry Ellis’ coach rightly said he could too. Billy Preston and his handlers are coming to KU to get Hudy-ized, to learn defense from the POTUD–the President of the United Defense–Bill Self, and to have his hood lifted and his motor wrenched on by Chief Mechanic Bill Self and his legendary pit crew. The preceding is a long way of saying Billy Preston will play garbage 4. He will be expected to start, guard, rebound, pick up garbage baskets on stick backs, and master putting it on the deck to drive the lane by the first conference game. If he can do this, then he will be granted two branding games. If he cannot, he might become a sub, or worse. Preston will learn the meaning of Stretch 4 from the inside out. He will have to stay a second season to lear from outside in; either that, or else discover the biggest, filthiest, two-stroke Detroit Diesel with a prehistoric blower about the size of King King’s heart! It’s the carrot and stick approach to engine development. Be a garbage man 4 with a gas motor under development, or junk the delicate overhead cam shizzle and the high octane gasoline, bore the heart chambers out to the paint can diameter of a Detroit Diesel cylinder, and begin roaring and clattering and sounding like you are flying apart in every direction that you make Bill Self want to use you to pull his 84% rig into March.

    I’m going to be blunt; this is a problem waiting to happen; this is Perry wanting to play outside and Self playing him inside; this is Bill Self saying we’ve got to get big again and play two big men; this is Self playing a small motor with scary athleticism and a good trifecta inside with Landen, or trying to make Billy his Landen backup for 15 mpg, if Doke can’t bounce back. This is Mr. 6-9 Imma Guard and a Trifectatin’ sunnuvagun with a Ford Fiesta 3 banger under the bonnet facing the genius lusting for the good old days of long cats in the paint.

    Oh, Bill will say they are playing 4-1, as he does with Josh, because he has Devonte, Vick, Svi, Malik and what the recruiting cat drags in outside, but does anyone seriously think Bill Self, who likened Billy Preston to Marcus Morris as a freshman, is going to put Mr. Above the Box Preston 23 feet from a short Trey? NOT!

    Billy Preston is coming to become BILL Preston in one season, maybe two.

    “Bill” Preston will discover he has a huge flipping motor under the hood that will let him become a force in the NBA.

    “Billy” Preston will be a really tall Garo Ypremian with a Fiesta 3 banger transferring to D-League running around saying, “I keek a trifecta.”

    If Preston stays two years, he could be one of KU’s all timers.

    Let the drama begin.

    P.S.: I forgot to say in conclusion that I believe Bill Preston will become one of KU’s great OADs, or TADs. The guy just looks like he has the right stuff. And Wilt Chamberlain most definitely had the great artist’s temperament, so I believe it’s actually a positive. I am asking the ghost of Bill Bridges to inhabit you and share his spirit with you. He is my favorite Bill of all KU Basketball players named Bill! We’ve had a few very good Bills and Billy’s play for KU. Rock Chalk, Billy/Bill Preston!

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Love the reference to Detroit motor world. Fitting.

    I’d like to see Billy become the new-age motor. A hybrid electric “torque monster” that can flip to high-octane petrol when his batteries are drained.

  • @drgnslayr

    Maybe even an all electric, all in wheel motored Tesla!!!

    That Tesla with the electric motors in every wheel is now the fastest accelerating production sedan in the world, maybe car.

    Bring on Billy “The Tesla” Preston!!!

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Love it!

    We brand him… “Tesla’s Revenge!”

  • @drgnslayr


  • @jaybate-1.0 Great stuff. Masterful analogy with Detroit, Billy has the horse power, for sure.



  • @jaybate-1.0 You really should get paid to write this stuff. Your articles (and I mean that with all affection and appreciation) are always better than what the supposed pros are writing.

  • So do we know if BPreston will be eligible to play college ball? All I’ve heard is rumor-mill, I dont have any facts…if anyone could help with details?

  • @Fightsongwriter

    Wow! That was very kind. Glad you enjoyed the posts.

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