LAWRENCE — Silvio De Sousa’s long, winding journey with Kansas basketball is over.
De Sousa, a senior forward with the Jayhawks, has opted out of the upcoming 2020-21 campaign to focus on "personal issues," De Sousa announced in a social media post Friday afternoon. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound native of Luanda, Angola, added that he will be stepping away from the sport entirely to focus all of his energy on those matters.
"I have a lot of things weighing on my mind and need to address these by taking time for myself and stepping away from basketball," De Sousa wrote. "I do not know what my next plan will be right now, but I will decide that when the time is right. This was not an easy decision to leave the basketball program, but it’s the best thing for me to do right now."
KU coach Bill Self said De Sousa informed him of his decision Friday.
"Knowing Silvio, it was clear he had been distracted and not fully focused during workouts as of late," Self said in a statement. "After he and I sat down and talked about that, it was clear this was the best decision for him, and Kansas basketball, to leave the program. At some point in the future, Silvio will decide what his next steps will be and where that will take him."
If nothing else, De Sousa made headlines across his first three collegiate seasons.
De Sousa joined the team midway through the 2017-18 season, a key contributor in that team’s Big 12 Tournament victory and its run to the Final Four. However, that offseason, during the trial of three individuals in the federal government’s probe of illicit payments in college basketball recruiting, De Sousa’s own path to KU was brought into question — legal documents and testimony implicated his guardian, Fenny Falmagne, of accepting under-the-table funds to steer De Sousa to the Adidas-partnered Jayhawks.
While the NCAA fallout from that allegation — as well as other illicit payments supposedly made to the families of at least two other KU targets — remains unsettled, De Sousa received a reprieve. After being ruled ineligible for the 2018-19 season, De Sousa won an appeal in May 2019 that granted him immediate eligibility ahead of his junior season.
But there was to be no revenge tour for De Sousa.
The former four-star recruit averaged just 2.6 points and 2.8 rebounds across 18 minutes per game in 2019-20 until another incident, this time a brawl with Kansas State players in the final seconds of a Jan. 21 contest at Allen Fieldhouse, again cost him his season — the Big 12 handed De Sousa a 12-game suspension for his role in the fight, and while he returned for what ended up being the Jayhawks’ season finale, De Sousa didn't play in that March 7 contest at Texas Tech.
"Thank you to all of my coaches and teammates for always having my back. You will always be my brothers for life," De Sousa wrote Friday. "Jayhawk nation, thank you for welcoming me and supporting me through the ups and downs. It has been very tough for me at times but you all have meant so much to me."
Self said KU supports De Sousa’s decision and wishes him the best moving forward.
"Silvio has worked very hard during his time here and we have stood by him throughout," Self said, "but we fully understand his reasoning to take time away from basketball."
Without De Sousa, the Jayhawks will enter the upcoming season with five forwards: 6-10 freshman Gethro Muscadin, 6-8 redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson, 6-8 sophomore Tristan Enaruna, 6-10 junior David McCormack and 6-8 redshirt senior Mitch Lightfoot.