Could KU freshman Silvio De Sousa’s situation become Billy Preston Part II?
photo by: Nick Krug
When it comes to the concept of worst case scenarios, the thought is so subjective that it can mean different things to different people.
In the world of sports, when you’re talking worst case scenarios, you could be talking about outcomes, injuries, seasons and more.
For the Kansas men’s basketball team, which is coming off of its first trip to the Final Four in six years and facing the very real scenario of losing four of its five starters from that team — with one more, in sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, still contemplating his future — the idea of worst case scenario for the 2018-19 season has quickly morphed from wondering who would start and how the team would look, into bringing the FBI’s investigation of college basketball into the picture.
To this point, according to a superseding indictment released last week by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, KU’s link to the investigation is limited to a couple of unnamed players and their parents/guardians allegedly taking money from one of the defendants named in the indictment.
While the identity of the two KU players referenced in the document is unknown, specific dates, sources at other news outlets and general speculation have pegged Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa as the likely identities of those two unnamed players.
Time will tell if that is accurate, but let’s assume for a second, while looking ahead to next season, that it is.
It remains to be seen whether KU (a) will find itself linked further in the ongoing investigation, (b) will face any NCAA penalties as a result of the investigation when all is said and done, whenever that is, or (c) will move forward with any kind of internal investigation that might lead to a better understanding of KU’s link to this mess.
And it’s far too early to know or even speculate about any of that at this point.
But getting back to the idea of worst case scenarios, let’s dive into that topic a little more, as it pertains to the two players mentioned in the indictment.
If one of them is Preston, KU may be in the clear on that one, at least moving forward. For one, the indictment does not allege any wrongdoing by KU. For two, Preston never played an official minute for that Jayhawks. So his involvement, if proven and later revealed, is almost irrelevant for Kansas at this point.
If De Sousa is the other player, that becomes a different story. The biggest reason many believe that the 6-foot-9 freshman from IMG Academy who joined KU midway through the 2017-18 season is one of the two players referenced stems from the date of his commitment — Aug. 30, 2017 — which the indictment uses when introducing a second player.
Because De Sousa did play in several games — 20 to be exact — and because he could be deemed ineligible if the allegations are proven true, De Sousa’s future with the Jayhawks becomes a little bit murky.
Again, with the FBI investigation still ongoing, it’s unlikely that KU or any other university will face any kind of penalty from the NCAA until there is concrete proof of an infraction or some kind of ruling.
Sources told the Journal-World that the FBI, in no uncertain terms, has told the NCAA to stay far away from its investigation until it is closed.
That leaves the De Sousa situation in a strange spot.
In monitoring Twitter, messages boards and general conversation about De Sousa, it seems clear that most people believe that the worst case scenario for KU — again, as things stand today — would be that De Sousa eventually is ruled ineligible and does not play another game for the Jayhawks.
While that would be a blow to KU’s roster, there actually is a worse worst case scenario out there. And it involves De Sousa staying on the roster.
Here’s how that would play out.
If the investigation somehow wraps up and the allegations are proven true — or worse — and KU is forced to part ways with De Sousa, the KU program would get his scholarship back — provided KU is not found to be culpable in any way — and Bill Self and company would at least be able to find a replacement for his spot.
Granted, that replacement probably would not be a 6-9, 245-pound physical specimen with serious skills and a pro basketball future, but somebody is better than nobody.
The real worst case scenario for Kansas has the case still ongoing and De Sousa’s status in limbo entering the 2018-19 season. And it’s not hard to envision that happening. Sure, the 2017-18 season just ended, but the start of next season is just six months away and I have yet to talk to anybody who believes the FBI will be wrapped up in six months.
So what KU could be facing is Billy Preston Part II, a situation where the Kansas coaching staff has to decide whether to play De Sousa and risk using an ineligible player or hold him out, like they did Preston, until the whole thing is cleared up.
That, at least in my eyes, would be the true worst case scenario because it not only would keep a player’s status in limbo, but it also would eat up a scholarship and keep a major distraction hovering around the program.
Time will tell how it all plays out. On one hand, KU could be cleared entirely and, on the other, KU could be dragged down a path that has the program wishing for the De Sousa dilemma. And then there’s the in between.
Regardless of where KU falls on that spectrum, the guess here is that none of it is going to be resolved quickly.