No update on Silvio De Sousa’s eligibility review, KU’s Self says

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Silvio De Sousa missed four games at Kansas last winter while awaiting NCAA clearance following his mid-school year high school graduation from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

“That was no fault of anybody he had to wait, I mean nobody. He got here at a certain time, you have to get cleared,” KU basketball coach Bill Self said Thursday at his weekly news conference at Allen Fieldhouse. “It took four games to get him cleared. It could seem like that’s frustrating, but he wasn’t ready to help us a week after he got here anyway. That wasn’t as big a deal. This is a bigger deal.”

Self, KU’s 16th-year coach, was referring to the 6-foot-9, 245-pound sophomore forward missing two exhibition games and the first five games of the 2018-19 season as De Sousa awaits the results of what KU has called a joint review of both KU and the NCAA into De Sousa’s eligibility.

“I don’t have anything new to report on that at all,” Self said.

In the recent trial involving corruption in college hoops recruiting, Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola testified that he gave De Sousa’s guardian, Fenny Falmagne, $2,500 so De Sousa could take online classes. Gassnola also said he originally offered $20,000 to Falmagne to help repay $60,000 given to him from a Maryland booster; Gassnola said he never paid it, though, ostensibly because he was being cautious because of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball recruiting.

While De Sousa can’t play pending the review, Self applauded his effort at practice as part of the scout team.

“His attitude has been terrific,” Self said. “He’s stayed positive. He’s been working his tail off. He’s doing it playing on the second unit because we don’t know (if and when he’ll be cleared to play) so we can’t give him all the reps on the first unit. We don’t know when that (becoming eligible) is going to happen. He is getting the vast majority of his reps on the second unit. He’s had a great attitude. He’s been engaged.”

KU junior forward Mitch Lightfoot said: “My hat’s off to Silvio. The kid is doing a great job. It’s great to go against Silvio every day. He is obviously a force the way he is built. He knows how to play. He’s great at bringing energy, not letting anything get to his head. That’s special. Not a lot of people could do that.”

De Sousa last Thursday played the role of Tennessee forward Grant Williams at practice prior to the Jayhawks’ 87-82 NIT title victory over the Vols on Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“He did a great job showing us looks on what Williams was going to do,” Lightfoot said. “If you have a player who can give a good look on what the other team is going to throw at you, it definitely helps.”

KU sophomore guard Charlie Moore knows how difficult it is to play on the second team or scout team every day.

He did that a year ago after transferring from Cal.

“Silvio has been great. Knowing he’s been sitting out and things like that I know is hard for him,” Moore said. “Even though it’s hard for him to sit out, he’s having fun helping the guys on the court and young guys as well, telling them what he sees and helping them out for sure.”

Grimes update

KU freshman guard Quentin Grimes, who scored 21 points in the opener against Michigan State, has had 24 points in the four games since then.

For the year, the 6-5 native of The Woodlands, Texas, averages 9.0 points a game on 38.9 percent shooting. He’s made 9 of 19 threes (47.4 percent) heading into Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. game against Stanford at Allen Fieldhouse.

“He hasn’t put up numbers like he did in the first game,” Self said. “He needs to be more aggressive. Even in the first game … he made shots, I’m not sure he got to the paint or did some things he’s really good at. His vision is terrific. He’s good at making passes to finish plays, all those things. He has not been consistent doing that because he has not forced help as much. It’s hard to make a great pass if you don’t force help in some form or fashion. He’s going to be fine. He’s still further along than a lot of good freshmen we’ve had, but a lot of good freshmen we’ve had … they haven’t been forced to play as many minutes. You could not play them. We’re in a situation he (Grimes, 27.8 minutes a game) needs to play. I certainly want him to become more aggressive but also know it’s a process for him, too,” Self added.

Practices not perfect yet

Self brought his players back to the gym for a second practice Tuesday night after his Hawk Talk radio show. He’s not been pleased with his players’ work at practice overall this season.

“I just feel there hasn’t been near the focus or the energy in practice that good teams have,” Self said, noting he always keeps workouts at or under the two-hour mark. “I know we’ve got it in us. I just think the focus isn’t quite as good as it should be.”

Self said sophomore guard Marcus Garrett (concussion symptoms) practiced on Tuesday night. He’s said he should be available on Saturday versus Stanford.

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