Used sparingly, Kansas freshman forward Silvio De Sousa has yet to distinguish himself in a college basketball game.
At practice, however, De Sousa, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound Angola native, has “shown flashes of being terrific,” KU coach Bill Self said at Thursday’s weekly news conference at Allen Fieldhouse.
De Sousa — he’s been on campus just over a month after graduating from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. — has scored two points with three rebounds, one block, no assists, five turnovers and six fouls while playing 18 total minutes in six games.
He’s apparently been much more productive during daily workouts.
“Him doing some kind of crazy dunk or him getting some kind of crazy blocked shot,” KU sophomore guard Malik Newman said of De Sousa’s “wow” moments. “Just him getting a rebound, running the floor, beating everyone up the floor and getting a dunk. You see that and say, ‘Man, did Silvio just do that? Wow I didn’t know he could do that.’ He’s shown a lot of moments we could be like, ‘Man if he can play like that every time, he can help us.’”
De Sousa has looked so out of place during games that Self has had trouble finding him minutes that might speed his advancement.
“He’s had a bad last two Big 12 games,” Self said. “Three turnovers in one minute (against Oklahoma). The other day, (K-State’s Dean) Wade gets six points (with De Sousa guarding him) and he has a turnover in one minute. He really hasn’t had a chance to do much. I need to keep him out there.”
De Sousa’s next opportunity figures to come in Saturday’s 11 a.m. home contest against Oklahoma State.
“Right now I would say his head’s spinning. I mean, it’s spinning. It’s going too fast for him,” Self said. “He is going to be terrific. He just hasn’t been able to probably get the minutes nor the opportunities, nor is he quite confident enough for that to translate to the games yet. We don’t really know what his role is yet. I’d like for it to develop.”
Self predicted weeks ago the big man would need some time before being able to contribute in actual games.
“I still believe this. I said it would be Feb. 1 before we kind of know who we are. I think we have a better idea of it. We’re still not a complete team until he starts giving us more because he’s very capable of being one of the better 6-7, 6-8 guys in our league,” Self said.
Asked to pinpoint De Sousa’s exact areas of improvement in just over a month on campus, Self said: “I think his energy level is better. I think he goes after balls better. He’s an above average rebounder when he’s doing those things. You can just see the wires aren’t quite connecting, but they’re getting closer. There’s a chance they may touch each other here pretty soon. They haven’t quite done that yet.”
De Sousa recently told the media that he appreciates the help of his teammates as he makes the huge adjustment from high school to college ball midseason.
“They all help me,” De Sousa said of his teammates. “I think Mitch Lightfoot … he’s the one who has been telling me everything: ‘That’s how you should be on this play. That’s where you should be.’ He helps me the most.”
Lightfoot, a sophomore forward, has also seen improvement.
“When it comes to seeing flashes, yeah he’s good,” Lightfoot said Thursday. “It’ll come to him. It’ll click. I remember first getting here I thought everything was three times the speed it was (in high school). I was, ‘Whoa, what the heck is going on?’ He’s getting so much better each day at practice. He wants to get better. It’ll happen.”
Newman said he’s also spoken with De Sousa on occasion.
“I told him to be yourself,” Newman said. “I think right now when he gets in a game he tries to press himself: ‘Man I’ve got to play well or Coach is going to take me out.’ I tell him, ‘Just relax, right now focus on rebounding. Like Coach says, try to be a ball mover. The ball is going to find you.’ He agreed with it and said it’s some of the things he’s going to work on.”
Self was asked about a proposal to allow players to transfer without sitting out a season if their coach was fired or left for another job. According to CBSsports.com players would not be permitted to follow the departing coach to their new school.
Also, players would be allowed to transfer without sitting out a year if a postseason ban is handed to a program by the NCAA. Currently players must sit out a season after transferring.
“I have strong beliefs on this, as do all coaches across America. The free agency aspect of it, where kids can go wherever they want to go, whenever they want to do it, we are all strongly, strongly, strongly against,” Self said Thursday. “It’s not because we think it’s negative with kids. It creates an environment where now you’re actually recruiting players from other teams in handshake lines. You have something negative happen to your program, and you just look for a guy at a mid-major that averages 15 a game, we’ll throw some bait out there for him. We’ll legislate that. You can’t legislate that stuff.
“I think any time when you don’t have to sit out is a very, very, very bad rule. I personally think, for instance, and there have been talks that if a coach leaves, allow everybody to leave, but they can’t go to the school with the coach. What about an assistant coach? I guess he doesn’t fall into that category. If he takes the players he recruited to go to another school, they’d have to sit. With our sport, people talk a lot about a lot of different things. Competitive balance is good. What you’ve done is you’ve just eliminated that with that type of thing.”
Self continued … “If you can think about it, a coach retires. That whole team can leave before you have an opportunity to hire a new coach. I don’t understand how that fits into the academic component where statistics show, unless you have a certain grade-point average, statistics show when you transfer, not usually all credits transfer and it takes a little bit longer to graduate. If we’re looking at it from the big picture as to what’s best for student-athletes as a whole over time, I would think that graduation would be at the top of the list, then I think competitive balance is right there underneath that.”
Self lauds three programs
Self was asked to identify the country’s elite teams at this point of the season.
“From my perspective, the three best teams in the nation have totally separated themselves from everybody else. That would be Villanova, Purdue and Virginia,” he said.
“I don’t know if they’re the most talented teams or they’re the teams that are playing the best. That could look totally different a month from now when other teams have a chance to maybe find themselves a little more. They’re all veteran teams. Those teams won’t go anywhere. You may have some teams narrow that gap obviously that are younger and will continue to find themselves as the season goes on.”
Of No. 3-ranked Purdue (21-2), Self, coach of the country’s No. 7-rated team, said: “They took their team to the World University Games. They won the silver. That’s not an easy thing to do. They’ve been together a long time, that group.”
At 20-1, Villanova is currently ranked No. 1, while 20-1 Virginia is No. 2 in the AP poll.