Friday brought news Kansas fans have been waiting for—but weren’t necessarily optimistic about—as Silvio De Sousa won his appeal, allowing him to play next season.
The fan base celebrated passionately, as it should have. It was a rare win against the NCAA for a kid who had suffered through a lot of punishment and uncertainty. And after what had been a somewhat slow offseason on the recruiting trail by that point, the news gave Kansas some much-needed front-court depth.
There are quite a few factors coming together in fans’ rejoicing: a sense of justice for Silvio, a win (of sorts) against the evil NCAA, and of course the potential for what De Sousa can bring to the court. And that’s really what it is—potential. We’ve only seen a 20-game sample size of De Sousa in college action, and it will be a year and a half between his in-game appearances. Not to mention, most of his teammates at that time are now gone.
So what does his game look like, for those who might have forgotten, and what is reasonable to expect from De Sousa as he makes his return?
While De Sousa’s stats dating back to high school and international play have never indicated that he was a prolific scorer, he has always been an efficient producer on offense. De Sousa shot 68 percent from the floor in his 20 games with the Jayhawks—second only to Udoka Azubuike—and had an offensive rating of 117.5. Even at other levels where he had a larger role, De Sousa shot 61 percent from the field his junior year at IMG Academy and 51 percent playing for Angola in the FIBA AfroBasket 2017.
Rebounding, Both Ends
De Sousa’s athleticism is prominently felt with regards to rebounding, where he crashes both the offensive and defensive boards well. His 3.7 rebounds per game were not necessarily indicative of where he was as a rebounder by the end of the season. In the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments, De Sousa posted rebounding numbers of:
Total rebounds – offensive & defensive
8 – 4 & 4
11 – 3 & 8
10 – 5 & 5
4 – 0 & 4
0 – (four minutes of play)
6 – 2 & 4
10 – 1 & 9
7 – 6 & 1
It’s a relatively small sample size, but De Sousa’s offensive and defensive rebounding percentage were above 20 percent and both the top marks on the team in 2018. Last year’s team desperately lacked both someone who could crash the offensive boards and play above the rim. De Sousa checks off both of those boxes. If he and Dok can stay healthy, that shouldn’t be a problem in 2019-20.
Methods of Success in 2018
It’s important to remember that Dok was injured for the majority of De Sousa’s appearances, making him the five man around four guards. He filled Dok’s role of throw the ball up near the basket and he’ll dunk it. Unlike Dok, De Sousa was especially deadly in transition, running the court with Devonte’ Graham extremely well.
The other way De Sousa often crushed defenses was in the pick and roll, often slipping to the paint before setting the screen for an easy dunk or layup. And then, of course, Silvo showed some nice footwork and post moves later in the season after racking up his fair share of traveling violations in his first games.
How He Could Find Success in 2019-20
Much of the discussion nationally from pundits regarding De Sousa’s eligibility was how he would mesh with Azubuike. It’s a valid question. The lane is only so big. One answer is that De Sousa’s offensive rebounding and second-chance buckets should still prove effective.
Another question is what aspects of De Sousa’s game were he able to improve on in his year of eligibility? It’s been awhile since we’ve seen his jump shot or post moves. The more of a mid-range game Silvio is able to develop, the better his collaboration with Dok should be.
Highlights from De Sousa’s time with the Angola national team could provide some insights:
Not only does De Sousa showcase a decent elbow jumper at the :33 mark, but on multiple occasions he catches the ball at the high post and is able to take his man off the dribble and make a play in the post.
It wasn’t perfect, but last year Dedric Lawson and Dok both put up strong numbers playing alongside one another. No one expects De Sousa to transform into Lawson this year, but his ability to run in transition, and if he can find a way to make plays starting outside of the lane, means De Sousa and Dok could be a dangerous 1-2 punch in the post.
And regardless of how they are able to work together, there’s no debate that Kansas is a better team next year with De Sousa eligible and playing.