Silvio De Sousa's return to KU lineup from suspension won't involve large role


Kansas Jayhawks forward Silvio De Sousa (22) reaches  for a rebound over Baylor Bears forward Freddie Gillespie (33) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas Jayhawks forward Silvio De Sousa (22) reaches for a rebound over Baylor Bears forward Freddie Gillespie (33) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

With No. 1-ranked Kansas playing so well and so many pages of documents to scour in KU’s response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations, it’s easy to forget that the Jayhawks are about to add another big man to their lineup.

With one game left in the regular season, Silvio De Sousa is officially back. His 12-game suspension ended, coincidently, as the Jayhawks wrapped up at least a share of the Big 12 title without him.

So now, a week into March, for the first time since Jan. 21, when De Sousa made some heat-of-the-moment errors in judgment during a fracas with Kansas State that he now regrets, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward returns to the lineup versus Texas Tech.

Just in time to help KU try and win the 2020 league title outright. What a story, right? Well, not really.

It would have felt crazy to say, write, hear or read before the season began, but the fact is the Jayhawks don’t even really need De Sousa to achieve that goal or the larger ones they still have in front of them.

Even before De Sousa threw punches at K-State players and hoisted a stool above his head during a rivalry game skirmish, actions he would later describe as “unacceptable behavior” and a “poor representation” of his team and his “own character,” the backup big man’s impact for KU was sporadic.

Having De Sousa back in uniform will become a luxury for the Jayhawks (27-3 overall, 16-1 Big 12). In his six appearances in league games in January, before his suspension, he only played 6.2 minutes on average — and that was when KU coach Bill Self still used two-big lineups at times.

So what does De Sousa’s role look like now, with the Jayhawks playing one big with four guards almost exclusively? Even Self admitted he doesn’t know the exact answer.

“I know he's going to travel with us. And he'll suit up. I don't know — that doesn’t mean he'll play or play much or anything,” Self said.

Basically, De Sousa has become an insurance policy and a No. 3 center. If anything were to occur that would lead Self to have both Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack on the bench — for instance, they both have two or more fouls before halftime — then the post spot goes to De Sousa.

“We've been kind of set in how we've done things and everything,” Self said of his team’s rotation, after the Jayhawks won their 15th game in a row. “And David's played really well, so I don't see Silvio's eligibility impacting David's minutes. So I don't know what that’ll look like.”

When many people think about De Sousa’s potential, his role in KU’s run to the 2018 Final Four first comes to mind. A freshman who didn’t even join the lineup until January of that year, the reserve from Angola gave the Jayhawks 4.8 points and 5.4 rebounds off the bench during the NCAA Tournament. As the only backup big for Azubuike versus Duke in the Elite Eight, De Sousa came through with 4 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes on a day that Azubuike fouled out.

Before he got the chance to continue his promising trajectory, De Sousa ultimately lost his entire sophomore season, as the NCAA ruled him ineligible in the wake of a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball. KU remains in hot water as the result of that investigation and the federal trial that followed it. The NCAA alleges, among other violations, that De Sousa’s guardian, Fenny Falmagne, received $2,500 from an agent in an effort to get De Sousa enrolled at KU.

The university’s lengthy response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations, made public Thursday, includes numerous references to the recruitment of De Sousa — his name is simply redacted from the published version of the document.

De Sousa’s return coinciding with the response makes the timing strange. And that’s actually appropriate, because his two-plus years at KU so far have involved bizarre twists and turns, including being reinstated by the NCAA for the 2019-20 season only to lose a chunk of it because of his involvement in the K-State fight.

“I do know he's paid a pretty heavy price,” Self said of the 12-game suspension. “It’s basically cost him the season. So we'll be excited to have him with us.”

As much as De Sousa has practiced with KU since getting to campus in late December of 2017, the on-again, off-again nature of his college career has stunted his development as a player. In-game reps are a crucial component of that growth. It doesn’t seem like he’ll get many of those in the weeks ahead either.

Perhaps De Sousa’s senior season at KU will be the one where he finally becomes a regular contributor. In the meantime, the Jayhawks have an emergency center who would start for many other college programs.


Brett McCabe 2 years, 3 months ago

Silvio is paying the price for morally corrupt advisers and cowardly coaches. A hard lesson for a kid was simply pursuing a dream. Welcome to America. Please assume the position.

Mark Wooden 2 years, 3 months ago

Silvio needs to move on. They will keep up the dog and pony show until this whole thing is complete.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 3 months ago

I wouldn't be surprised if Silvio did leave to play elsewhere, though I still root for him to succeed here. In some ways reminds me of Diallo.

We kind of need him for next year, though Coach is notorious for pulling in recruits and transfers at the last minute to complete the team. Not sure that Mitch and the raw freshman that has signed already are capable of successfully manning the 5 spot full time for an entire year.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 3 months ago

It would be nice to be able to rest Dok, but maybe he doesn't need it, and maybe we do need him.

Joe Ross 2 years, 3 months ago

EXACTLY what I was thinking.

Dok needs the rest. Silvio needs the minutes to get back in the flow.

Especially considering the conference title is already in the bag, dumbest move ever not to ride De Sousa now.


Michael Terry 2 years, 3 months ago

You have got to be kidding. De Sousa is one injury away from playing significant minutes. He provides a physical presence that doesn't currently exist on our bench outside of McCormack. I predict he will be an insurance policy we will need more than once during the tournament if we are going to win a National Championship. I feel more comfortable and confident with him on our bench then going forward without him.

Robert Lofthouse 2 years, 3 months ago

Wouldn't it be nice to see Silvio return to his first post-season form, this year?

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