KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Silvio De Sousa’s time in a Kansas basketball uniform is on hold, the sophomore forward withheld indefinitely pending a joint eligibility review between KU and the NCAA, the university announced Wednesday morning.
KU coach Bill Self, though, appears confident De Sousa hasn’t played his last game in crimson and blue.
“Oh, I don’t see a scenario where I won’t coach him again,” Self said later Wednesday during a breakout session with reporters at Big 12 men’s basketball media day inside Sprint Center, “unless there’s something that comes out more.”
In announcing it would withhold De Sousa for the team’s 7 p.m. Thursday exhibition opener against Emporia State at Allen Fieldhouse and indefinitely moving forward, KU cited new information produced at the college basketball corruption trial of former Adidas executives James “Jim” Gatto and Merl Code and former aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins. The trio were found guilty Wednesday at the federal trial in New York on all felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in orchestrating illicit under-the-table payments to top college basketball recruits.
De Sousa was a central figure at the trial, with former Adidas runner and government witness Thomas “T.J.” Gassnola admitting to delivering De Sousa’s guardian $2,500 for the forward to attend classes and scheduling another $20,000 transaction to help the guardian repay a debt to a Maryland booster, though the latter never occurred, testified Gassnola, who also said KU coaches were unaware of his actions.
Self emphasized the joint review by KU and the NCAA will determine if and when De Sousa plays again, though he is optimistic about the prospects of the 6-foot-9 native of Luanda, Angola’s return.
“Me personally? Yeah, I’m looking forward to coaching Silvio in games,” Self said. “But that doesn’t mean I’m positively going to or giving you a timeline in which I will. I just don’t know the details of the case, so it’s hard for me to comment.”
Speaking at KU’s own media day Oct. 10, De Sousa was defiant about his eligibility status — “I know I’m going to play this year,” he said. Self said he delivered to De Sousa news of the indefinite hiatus on Tuesday night and said the former four-star recruit was aware this outcome was a possibility.
“He’s a young man, he’s a kid that’s put in his time and certainly feels sad because he’s having something taken away from him he did not anticipate being taken away from him,” Self said of De Sousa. “But he’s a big boy too, and we deal with this stuff. Not on a consistent basis, but eligibility issues are very commonplace in college athletics and guys have to deal with them. ...
“We’re hopeful that, you know, exhibition is not quite as important as regular season, but we’ll see what happens.”
Asked whether De Sousa’s situation is comparable to a similar one involving former Jayhawk guard Josh Selby — the NCAA ruled the former top recruit could play after repaying $4,607.54 owed on an illicit loan, ultimately missing nine games in the 2010-11 season — Self said he couldn’t make any comparison at this time.
De Sousa averaged four points and 3.7 rebounds in 20 games last year after joining the Jayhawks midseason, a key contributor down the stretch in his team’s Big 12 and NCAA tournament runs. Any timeline for De Sousa’s return, Self said, is in the NCAA’s hands, though he’s hopeful both sides can work together “to try to expedite the process.”
“(De Sousa) knows it’s for Thursday,” Self said, “but he also knows if it’s not complete it’ll be for longer than Thursday.”