Pushed by head coach Bill Self, big man coach Norm Roberts, strength coach Andrea Hudy and other staff members, freshman Silvio De Sousa has been focused on conditioning since his first Kansas men’s basketball practice Dec. 27.
“It’s primarily running,” Self said on Friday, offering an update on the progress of De Sousa, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound recent IMG Academy graduate who has been busy on the court and in the weight room while awaiting clearance from the NCAA to play in games. That clearance came Saturday morning prior to the 11 a.m. game against Kansas State.
De Sousa will be in uniform and eligible to play in the K-State game. “I know it’s a big relief to Silvio who has been very patient throughout this process,” Self said in a release issued Saturday morning.
(Meanwhile there’s no news on the eligibility of Billy Preston and no timetable, Self said Friday.)
“I made him do a drill in front of the team, which was a totally exhausting drill,” Self said Friday of a Boot Camp-type exercise De Sousa tackled at practice Thursday. “He was all excited when he finished it. I said, ‘OK, now on the line. You’ve got to run this and this.’”
De Sousa hasn’t been overwhelmed by the prescribed up-and-back sprints, Self said.
“He knows he needs to get in better shape. He’s the first one to tell us that. It’s a big difference from high school to college,” Self said.
“When you stop and think about it, this dude is playing high school ball three weeks ago and he’s been here two weeks. I think it’s expecting too much for him to be 80 or 90 percent of what he can be in the first couple weeks. Certainly by Feb. 1, I believe that could be the case where he could be 100 percent of what he could be.”
Self said Friday that De Sousa would be awarded minutes as soon as the NCAA deemed him eligible. He had been cleared academically but has been waiting for the NCAA to clear his amateur status.
“I do think his conditioning is lacking. When your conditioning is not as good, I do think sometimes you pace yourself and he’s not going to play enough early on that we’re going to expect him to play 10 straight minutes. It’s going to be short spurts,” Self said.
“There’s no reason he can’t give us two to three to four minutes where his energy level is very high knowing he’s probably not going to be in much longer than that any way.”
De Sousa, from Angola, was Rivals.com’s No. 25-rated player in the Class of 2018. He is ready for major-college basketball, Self said.
“He’s been with us long enough I’d trust to play him in a game. I don’t know if I’d trust him to play in the last three or four minutes,” Self said. “Play in a close game? Midway through the second half? Absolutely, no question.
“When he and Doke (7-footer Udoka Azubuike) are in there together, that would be OK. If he and Mitch (Lightfoot, 6-8) were in there together, that would be fine. He could still play the 5. Mitch can play the 4. It depends on the situation. A late-game situation first game in? I don’t think I’d put that on anybody.”
KU sophomore guard Malik Newman was asked about De Sousa’s shooting ability.
“He is not a good shooter right now, but he can shoot it. He’s made a couple that we were like, ‘Wow, he made that?’” Newman said Friday.
“I would say that. I could also say that about Malik too,” Self said. “We could say that about Devonté (Graham) at times or Lagerald (Vick) at times. He’s not going to play to making an 18-footer. That’s not what we’re going to play to. Around the basket I would think Malik would say his shooting is much better. He does have a nice touch, no doubt about it. But expecting him to come in and be a pick and pop guy and stretch the defense from behind the arc, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Will he be that? Absolutely. I don’t think he’s ready to do that after two weeks.”
Self said it seems De Sousa has been with the team more than just a couple weeks.
“I actually do feel we know him pretty well. We’ve spent a lot of time with him,” Self said. “His attitude is unbelievable because he’s doing two or three times more than everybody else every day whether it be going to Watkins (Health Center) and getting certain tests done or the extra physicals or meeting with compliance two hours a day to finalize it (eligibility). I think his attitude has been absolutely terrific.”
He not only works with the coaches, but with strength coach Hudy.
“Andrea will work with him after every practice, whether it’s to do extra in the weight room where he’s primarily doing what his teammates do,” said Self, who hopes to soon add another big or two to the rotation. Forward Billy Preston also is waiting on clearance from the NCAA.
“I see good potential,” Self said. “I see mainly when the ball is in the air who goes and gets it? I see mainly that being the biggest addition. Where we’ve got to figure it out is how are we going to guard. We’ve been switching everything. Now we obviously won’t be able to do that quite as much with two bigs in.”