Kansas coach Bill Self can finally breathe a small, but much-needed sigh of relief.
The NCAA announced Saturday that big man Silvio De Sousa has been cleared for competition and was able to suit up for the Jayhawks 73-72 victory over Kansas State. Unfortunately for KU, there is still no word on whether or not power forward Billy Preston — who has been held out pending an investigation into a one-car accident — is also eligible to make his season debut.
“I know it’s a big relief to Silvio who has been very patient throughout this process,” Self said in a statement released by KU.
De Sousa, a five-star recruit at power forward from IMG Academy, was originally slated to join Kansas (13-3) next season, but reclassified earlier this year and joined the Jayhawks in late December. The team was waiting on the NCAA to review his academic standing before inserting him into the lineup.
On Saturday, he played just four minutes recording just one foul and one turnover.
The addition of another big is a huge victory for No. 12 Kansas, which had been going with a four-guard lineup for most of the season without much depth up front. That’s forced Self away from his traditional system of pounding the ball inside the paint to a largely three-point shooting game plan.
Since arriving on campus, De Sousa has been working to increase his conditioning and Self has previously said that he will likely use the freshman in short spurts. If nothing else, he can help take pressure away from center Udoka Azubuike, who had been struggling to stay out of foul trouble while averaging 14 points and seven rebounds on 76 percent shooting from the field.
In year where the Jayhawks have uncharacteristically dropped two games at home already and are seeing a surge of contenders in the Big 12, the addition of De Sousa could go a long way towards KU’s quest for a record-breaking 14th straight conference championship.
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