FILE - In this March 10, 2018, file photo, Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa (22) tips the ball away from West Virginia guard James Bolden (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the finals of the Big 12 men's tournament, in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa, whose name surfaced as part of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball, will be withheld from competition pending a review of his eligibility. Jayhawks coach Bill Self said in a statement before appearing at the Big 12’s annual media day Wednesday, Oct. 24,2018, that the sophomore forward would be held out beginning with Thursday’s exhibition game. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

Kansas to hold De Sousa out pending investigation

October 24, 2018 - 2:37 pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa was benched indefinitely Wednesday as the top-ranked Jayhawks and the NCAA review the sophomore's eligibility after his name surfaced as part of an FBI investigation into widespread corruption in college basketball,

During the trial of former Adidas executive James Gatto, ex-AAU coach T.J. Gassnola testified that he facilitated payments to De Sousa's guardian in an attempt to steer him toward Kansas. Gassnola denied that the Jayhawks' coaching staff knew about the payments. Jurors began deliberations last week in the case in federal court.

"Information was presented during the current trial in New York — some of which we knew, some of which we didn't," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "We have decided to withhold Silvio from competition until we can evaluate and understand the new information. We have already discussed trial developments with the NCAA and will continue to work with NCAA staff moving forward."

That means De Sousa, a 6-foot-9 forward from Angola, will not appear in Thursday night's exhibition opener. He could miss a good chunk — or all — of the regular season, which begins with a high-profile game against Michigan State on Nov. 6 in Indianapolis.

"The timetable is unknown," Self said during the Big 12's annual media day.

De Sousa graduated from IMG Academy last December, joined the Jayhawks for the spring semester and provided valuable interior depth as the school made a deep March run. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds while helping Kansas beat West Virginia for the Big 12 Tournament title, then appeared in every game while helping the Jayhawks reach the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

De Sousa was at his best in the Elite Eight, when he had four points and 10 rebounds while playing 26 minutes in a victory over Duke that sent the Jayhawks into a showdown with Villanova.

Self said during the Jayhawks' local media day two weeks ago that he was planning for De Sousa to play this season, and De Sousa himself declared, "I know I'm going to play."

That was just as the trial began for Gatto, who along with Adidas consultant Merl Code and NBA agent runner Christian Dawkins are charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after allegedly directing money from the apparel company to the families of recruits at Kansas, Louisville and other schools.

Text messages presented by defense attorneys indicated Self and Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend may have been aware that Gassnola, serving as a consultant for Adidas, helped to deliver money to De Sousa's guardian, Fenny Falmagne, to get him pay for online classes and get out of a pay-for-pay scheme brokered with Maryland. De Sousa committed to the Jayhawks a few days after the text messages.

Self declined to comment on his own involvement in the case, saying "that's a mandate given to me."

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he anticipates the NCAA will launch an investigation into the corruption case once the federal trials are complete. But he also sidestepped several questions about the Kansas case, calling it "premature" to comment on a sensitive situation.

"The conference and the NCAA have intentionally deferred to the federal governing process and until that process is complete we can't continue down that path," Bowlsby said.

Bowlsby did acknowledge having conversations with Self and Kansas athletic director Jeff Long earlier this week, but he said the corruption case was not discussed in any great detail.

"Well, I know people at all of those companies that are involved and they operate with integrity in the ways I've encountered them," said Bowlsby, a longtime college administrator. "But clearly there is influence in the system and to the extent we can manage it and control it, we ought to do that. And I think that'll be the step that comes after it, rules that respond to things that have been raised in the court case."

Kansas decided it couldn't wait that long, choosing instead to bench De Sousa indefinitely.

The Jayhawk have plenty of interior depth to pick up De Sousa's minutes. And with a bevy of high-level transfers, including former Memphis standout Dedric Lawson, and one of the nation's top recruiting classes, they are a trendy pick to win the national title. And using a player later to be deemed ineligible could wipe out what promises to be a big season in Lawrence.

"I don't really think it will affect nothing," Lawson said. "Silvio comes to practice every day and we're here for him and support him. I know it's a tough time for him but as time goes on the truth will come out. ... He just has a clear mind, he has a great spirit."

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