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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Getting Comfortable: KU freshman Silvio De Sousa taking small steps toward progress and loving every one of them

Kansas freshman Silvio De Sousa throws up a shot in pre-game warmups Saturday ahead of his season debut vs. Kansas State. De Sousa was cleared to play Saturday morning.

Kansas freshman Silvio De Sousa throws up a shot in pre-game warmups Saturday ahead of his season debut vs. Kansas State. De Sousa was cleared to play Saturday morning.

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Speaking publicly for the first time since arriving at Kansas after graduating early from IMG Academy in Florida, freshman forward Silvio De Sousa on Thursday was asked about the pressure he felt from having to hit the ground running and help the thin Kansas frontcourt immediately.

The 6-foot-9, 245-pound personable, gentle giant laughed.

“Pressure,” he questioned. “Ha ha. To be honest, I know how to handle pressure. I have felt a lot of pressure before, but right now I've grown a lot and I know how to deal with it, so it's not a big deal and I just handle it like I should.”

That answer fell perfectly in line with one De Sousa — pronounced Deh-Soe-Sah — gave just a few minutes earlier about the differences between high school basketball and the college game, which he has experienced for exactly 11 minutes in the past two KU victories.

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Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) pressure Kansas State forward Dean Wade (32) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

“The difference is, in college, you play with men and in high school it's more like you play with boys,” De Sousa said matter-of-factly. “When I was in high school people used to say I'm a grown man because of the way I'm built. In college, everybody's the same. So I think it's a lot different.”

Unable, thus far, to deliver the same kind of double-double nights and highlight-reel plays that he did for IMG, De Sousa, a native of Angola, explained that he was feeling more and more comfortable with each passing day.

The reason? For one, he's more familiar with his surroundings and starting to open up to his coaches and teammates. And, for two, with each tick of the game clock, De Sousa feels more and more like he belongs.

“When I got in the game against Kansas State I was just telling myself, 'Right now, I just need to see how it is and I just wanted to feel,'” De Sousa recalled. “And the next game, against West Virginia, I told myself, 'I'm going to try and get used to it.' And that's how it's going to be for the next couple games, try to adjust and hopefully do better.”

Teammate and roommate Marcus Garrett, a freshman who, from Day 1, has carried himself like more of a veteran, said he has seen De Sousa become more comfortable with each passing day.

“I feel like ever since he came in he's been trying to compete, playing hard, trying to learn things on the fly,” said Garrett, noting that De Sousa could help this team most with rebounding and his footwork in the post.

But it's not just points and rebounds or fouls and free throws that Garrett believes make De Sousa an asset for this Kansas team.

For a young man who stepped into an almost impossible situation and received a standing ovation from the home crowd for just going to the scorer's table to check into a game, De Sousa's positive demeanor has been refreshing for a group of Jayhawks who have been stretched thin and playing on the edge since the season tipped off.

“He's very funny,” said Garrett, who guessed that the two might have been assigned to room together because they share the same favorite rapper, NBA Young Boy. “He likes telling jokes. He likes just being around people, basically. He's uplifting, all of the good things you want to be around.”

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Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) watches from the bench between Kansas forward Billy Preston, left, and Kansas guard Sam Cunliffe during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

If there's any correlation between that and producing on the court, there's a better than fair chance that KU coach Bill Self will discover it. And while Self has been the one guy in town trying his best to keep the expectations for De Sousa rooted in reality, even he admitted Thursday that he was “excited” about his new big man's prospects in the not-too-distant future.

“I said this earlier, probably February 1 before he's probably really comfortable,” Self said of De Sousa's timetable of progress. “But I'm excited because I do think he brings us physical presence. You know, he's a strong dude. He's not going to be great this year. We knew that. But he is going to be a guy that I think can give us substantial minutes and us not take a step backwards from a competitive standpoint or rebounding standpoint.”

As for the limited number of on-the-court moments he has had thus far, De Sousa said he already has experienced one that figures to last a lifetime. And it came when he cooly tried to work his way down the bench after being asked to check into last Saturday's win over Kansas State with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half.

“That moment, I think I will never forget,” he said. “I think it was a dream coming true. I just feel like Kansas was the right place to be. It was No. 1 and it will always be my No. 1 school no matter what. I could see the crowd, the fans, the way they wanted me to play, and I loved it. I'm really thankful for them.

“So far everything's been great. And I'm just trying to adjust myself. My team and the people around me are supporting me and helping me a lot, so I'm going with them.”

Comments

Craig Carson 7 months ago

he played with much more energy and he even had a nice post move..good to see someone else besides Azibuike score in the post

David Robinett 7 months ago

He's helping the frontcourt, not the backcourt, right?

Marius Rowlanski 7 months ago

Hopefully, he is helping the whole team.

Dirk Medema 7 months ago

By 2/1, he might be helping everybody but Sam. I could see him starting opposite Dok or maybe allowing Mitch to start at the 4 and subbing for both.

That then means that you only need one more player from Marcus, Malik, Lagerald, and Sam to start. Probably only 2 of the other 3 to see significant minutes for the 8 man short list. Gives Coach lots of motivation to work with.

Danny Hernandez 7 months ago

And when Billy is finally allowed to play, we should be pretty darn good

Len Shaffer 7 months ago

Sadly, that "when" is looking more and more like an "if."

George Powell 7 months ago

There has not been an update about Billy for a while now. I am now in the camp, this season is shot for him.

Brian Babcock 7 months ago

I'm kind of agreeing with that but I'll tell you what: The fact he's still practicing every day and sitting on the bench rooting for his team - and that has to be hard to do - speaks a lot to me concerning the man he really is.

George Powell 7 months ago

Yep, I don't question Billy's work ethic and attitude, kind of hope he stays for his sophomore year.

Tony Bandle 7 months ago

Billy Preston has handled this situation with as much class if not more than anyone could expect from a young man his age. The almost shameless disregard shown by the NCAA to expedite this case is putting this kid's career in jeopardy.

He may be a OAD but if he doesn't play at all this season, and even though he could still be a OAD, it will cost him millions so I hope his mom sues the crap out of the NCAA for damages to his career and his earning power.

Marius Rowlanski 7 months ago

This has to be extremely frustrating for Preston. It doesn't seem possible that it would take this long for the NCAA to make a decision on his eligibility. I agree that he has handled the situation with as much dignity and class that could be expected. We will never know just how good this team would have been at this point.

At this point as far as the draft is concerned, it would probably be better if he isn't cleared unless he came in and performed well in the time left. De Sousa albeit having less time at Kansas, is showing that it isn't easy to just step in and perform despite how talented he is.

As it is now, he would basically be coming in straight from high school as far as most NBA teams would look at him except he has had a year, practicing and learning his craft from one of the top programs in the country.

I would love to see him come back but who knows if the NCAA will ever make a ruling on his eligibility.

Len Shaffer 7 months ago

Keep in mind, Marius, that the first two months or so of the process was KU doing the investigation, not the NCAA. As much as the NCAA deserves plenty of criticism, at this point the NCAA hasn't spent as much time on Billy as KU itself has.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 7 months ago

theoretically he gets a free tuition and board for a year of practice with a blue blood team with no game injuries. sounds better than europe.

Joe Ross 7 months ago

Hold the phone.

I thought it was reported that De Sousa needed an interpreter, that the language barrier was going to be a hindrance in practices, etc. Wasn't that reported HERE?

Lost as an Easter Egg,

Joe

Matt Tait 7 months ago

Wasn't reported here ever. I talked to him when he first committed on the phone on his flight home to Angola and was impressed immediately by how well he spoke English. It was even better hearing it in person today. Not sure where you got that, but it's definitely not an issue for Silvio or the team.

Greg Ledom 7 months ago

That made me chuckle. Thanks Gary

Marius Rowlanski 7 months ago

Surprisingly, Portuguese is the #1 language spoken in Angola.

Yonatan Negash 7 months ago

Initially, I wasn't a fan of rushing Silvio De Sousa to play this year under the circumstances of player shortage. I didn't think it was fair to overburden a high school to save the season.

But my initial thoughts about Silvio De Sousa are evolving. I'm blowing away by his maturity and composure on the court. Hopeful, we get to see him start at the forward position to neutralize our rotation and enhance our ability to rebound.

Several weeks ago, I'd also made the prediction that this KU team would lose 10+ games this season unless a drastic change was made. That prediction was made after the third loss at home and frankly many shared the sentiment at the time. However, I think the WV win was a game changer. New prediction, KU wins the Big 12 again.

Yonatan Negash 7 months ago

Apparently, you clowns still do.

You read and reply to every comment I post, I must be good.

Tom Jones 7 months ago

Spoken like the troll that you are.

Geoffrey Alonso 7 months ago

Matt, do you think in any scenarios they would go to a more traditional (for KU) 2 big line up. Even for a bit. Run his high/low offense or is that pretty much unfeasible? Especially if the perimeter shooting is off or matchups dictate?

Matt Tait 7 months ago

Definitely. Working on a story about that right now and it'll be up sometime this morning. Thanks for the comment!

Marius Rowlanski 7 months ago

Looking at the make-up for next year's team, I'd be willing to bet that Coach Self will play 2 bigs the majority of the season even if Azubuike and Preston leave for the NBA.

William D'Armond 7 months ago

Matt Tait, obviously there is no news, but I am befuddled by the fact that last week Self was talking about both De Sousa and Preston in regards to news from the NCAA. Then when he gave his update Friday he made it sound very clear that he expected to hear about De Sousa. A week has went by and not a single word whispered about Preston. This situation is starting to feel eerily similar to Cliff Alexander. Have you heard any rumblings since last week about Preston? Based on your knowledge of the situation what percentage of a chance do you believe that he has to get on the court this season?

Dirk Medema 7 months ago

At the beginning of the month Coach was talking about Billy and Silvio together but the week leading up to Silvio being cleared the comments changed to being positive towards Silvio and unknown for Billy. Sounds like there had been some discussion with the NCAA on the one but not the other. I think it was when they announced about Silvio that Coach clarified they didn't have any updates on Billy but they would let us know when they had info to share. In other words stop with the nagging. The answer is no until I tell you otherwise.

I'm also recalling Coach saying he wanted to use the hi-lo again but it will be interesting to read the meat Matt puts on those bones.

Harlan Hobbs 7 months ago

Silvio will be a credit to the program regardless of his contributions this year. It's great to see a young man from another country come to the United States and thrive. His attitude and team approach will always serve him well.

My guess is that we won't have him for a long time, and I hope that he continues to enjoy every moment.

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