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Embattled senior F Silvio De Sousa leaves KU men’s basketball program

Kansas v Villanova Silvio De Sousa
Posted at 5:18 PM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 19:36:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Silvio De Sousa saga for the University of Kansas men’s basketball program ended Friday afternoon.

Jayhawks coach Bill Self announced in a statement that De Sousa, a 6-foot-9 senior forward originally from Angola, has opted out of the 2020-21 season to “focus on matters in his personal life.”

“Knowing Silvio, it was clear he had been distracted and not fully focused during workouts as of late,” Self said. “After he and I sat down and talked about that, it was clear this was the best decision for him, and Kansas basketball, to leave the program. At some point in the future, Silvio will decide what his next steps will be and where that will take him.”

De Sousa also announced the decision Friday afternoon on social media.

De Sousa’s three seasons at KU have been marked by controversy.

After playing a small role off the bench during his freshman season, the Jayhawks withheld De Sousa from competition to start the 2018-19 season amid an investigation into his eligibility.

The NCAA ultimately dropped the hammer on De Sousa in February 2019 over alleged payments made by a KU booster and an Adidas employee to his guardian, illicit gifts made during the recruiting process that came to light as part of an FBI probe into college recruiting tactics by shoe companies.

De Sousa initially received a two-year ban — the balance of the 2018-19 season and all of the 2019-20 season as well — but the NCAA reduced the punishment to a one-year ban in May 2019 on appeal.

He had declared for the NBA Draft after the 2018-19 season as a safeguard in case his appeal wasn’t successful, but withdrew his name and returned to Kansas.

De Sousa appeared in 18 games last season, including one start, but only averaged 2.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in a little more than 8 minutes per game before an ugly on-court incident led to another suspension.

During the closing minutes of a Jayhawks victory against Kansas State at Allen Fieldhouse, De Sousa hammered Dejuan Gordon to the floor on a breakaway after a steal in the closing seconds of a 21-point KU win and drew a technical foul for standing over him in a taunting manner.

That touched off a benches-clearing brawl during which De Sousa picked up a chair over his head as if to swing it at a member of the Wildcats.

The Big 12 suspended De Sousa for 12 games, but Self made the suspension indefinite and he never suited up again for the Jayhawks.

Three other players also received suspensions for their part in the melee.

That moment turns out to be De Sousa’s last in the KU uniform.

He appeared in a total of 38 games, averaging 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds, and helped the Jayhawks reach the NCAA Final Four as a freshman after enrolling midyear upon graduation from IMG Academy.

“Silvio has worked very hard during his time here and we have stood by him throughout, but we fully understand his reasoning to take time away from basketball,” Self said in concluding his statement. “We support his decision and wish him nothing but success moving forward.”

De Sousa’s departure leaves KU with four forwards on the 2020-21 roster — redshirt senior Mitch Lightfoot, junior David McCormack, redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson and freshman Gethro Muscadin.

The start of the college basketball season has been pushed back until Nov. 25 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kansas announced Friday that “Late Night in the Phog” will be a virtual event on Friday, Oct., 23. The stream will begin at 7 p.m.