Former Jayhawk Silvio De Sousa headed back to the NCAA Tournament after 4 long years
Former Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa is headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since helping the 2017-18 Jayhawks reach the Final Four as a freshman.
Now in his fifth season of eligibility, De Sousa’s new team, Chattanooga, punched its NCAA Tournament ticket on Monday night in dramatic fashion.
An overtime buzzer-beater from well-beyond 3-point range gave the Mocs a one-point win over Furman, setting off a wild celebration featuring an elated De Sousa and his new teammates.
When the game-winner from David Jean-Baptiste fell through the net, De Sousa collapsed near mid-court, arms and legs sprawled out as if he was preparing to make a snow angel.
“I think it was the very first practice, I remember telling the guys in the locker room, ‘You think playing ball in fun? Just make it to the NCAA tournament, you’ll have a lot more fun,'" De Sousa said Monday night after his team's thrilling 64-63 overtime win. "I just hope they will get to enjoy it, and just have the fun I once told them about.”
As the team’s third leading scorer at 11.1 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes per game, De Sousa started 25 of the 27 games he played in during the Mocs’ 27-7 season.
Chattanooga won both the regular season and Southern Conference tournament titles and is projected in ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket as a No. 13 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
That likely puts to bed any theories about De Sousa facing his old team in the Big Dance. But him being there at all is a success story in and of itself.
The one-time promising five-star recruit from Angola, who came to KU a semester early, never lived up to the expectations many people had for him at Kansas.
After a great start in which he played an important role in helping the Jayhawks reach the 2018 Final Four, filling in admirably for injured big man Udoka Azubuike, De Sousa never got back on track.
Remember, this was a guy who was on the floor for much of the overtime in KU’s Elite Eight win over Duke that year.
That was about it in the way of highlights, though.
From there, DeSousa’s KU career hit hard times after a series of rough patches — ranging from his name surfacing in the FBI case to the infamous brawl with Kansas State and an incident outside of a Lawrence nightclub in which he was later cleared of any wrongdoing — kept him off the floor and ultimately led to him leaving the program and landing at Chattanooga as a graduate transfer.
Even from afar, he remained close with several of his former KU teammates and some of them hopped on Twitter on Monday night to share their support.
While no one quite expected his college basketball path to play out the way it did, there was De Sousa, dropping 17 points and 14 rebounds in a do-or-die postseason game for his new program on Monday night.
The performance marked his sixth double-double of the season, tied a career-high for rebounds and was the first double-double in the Southern Conference title game in 27 years.
His career might not have played out at all like he hoped it would while at Kansas. But it sure seems to be ending on a high note.
De Sousa was named to the SoCon All-Tournament team this week, and the next game he plays in will be his sixth career NCAA Tournament game and first in four years.