LAWRENCE, Kan. - University of Kansas men's basketball forward Silvio De Sousa will declare for the 2019 NBA draft but wants to return to school.
De Sousa, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound sophomore from Angola, who did not play in a game last season and is also suspended through next season by the NCAA, had an appeal filed on his behalf by the university on Thursday.
De Sousa, speaking with his lawyer Friday at a Lawrence hotel, said he would return to Kansas if his appeal is granted and he would pursue a professional career if the appeal is rejected.
In a four-page letter of support filed with the appeal, De Sousa's attorney Scott Tompsett wrote in part: "Your committee has an opportunity in this case to make a decision that will be life-altering for Silvio." Tompsett said a decision on the appeal could be made next week.
De Sousa and all players who declare for the draft have until May 29 to withdraw if they wish to return to school.
The NCAA initially ruled on Feb. 1 that De Sousa must sit out the remainder of the 2018-19 basketball season and all of 2019-20 "because his guardian received payment from a university booster and agent and agreed to receive additional funds from the same person."
In its statement Thursday, KU said it was "challenging the two-season penalty De Sousa received from the NCAA for alleged violations that he was unaware of and from which he did not benefit." KU also said it would not have further comment until the appeal process was complete.
De Sousa's appeal will go in front of the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement - a five-person panel made up of non-NCAA employees, typically consisting of personnel from individual schools with one student-athlete representative. Depending on one's reading of the NCAA's policies and procedures, the appeal should be heard either within seven business days or three weeks. The reinstatement committee's ruling on the case is final.
KU coach Bill Self said earlier this week he expected De Sousa to enter his name in the draft.
"I think it may be in his best interest to declare," Self said Tuesday. "If we don't know where this is it buys another month for him to get a chance to try out for some folks and see what happens. The reality of it is, is he needs another year of college to definitely create the most earning power he could possibly have. Right now he doesn't have that much. Nobody's seen him play."
In February, the NCAA stated in a release that "according to the facts provided for purposes of the reinstatement request, De Sousa's guardian received payment of $2,500 from an agent and booster of the school. He agreed to accept additional payment of $20,000 from the same individual and an Adidas employee for securing De Sousa's enrollment at Kansas." KU athletics has an apparel sponsorship contract with Adidas.
During a federal trial regarding corruption into college basketball last fall, former Adidas representative T.J. Gassnola testified that sometime before January 2018, he overnighted a $2,500 payment to De Sousa's legal guardian, Fenny Falmagne. Gassnola said he sent the money in an envelope inside a magazine, so De Sousa could pay for online classes.
Gassnola testified that he also originally offered Falmagne $20,000 to help him get out of a previous arrangement with a Maryland booster, who was paying Falmagne $60,000 with the expectation being that De Sousa would attend Maryland. Gassnola testified that he had discussed previous payments with then-Adidas executive Jim Gatto before making them.
Falmagne told The Star he did receive $2,500 in cash in the mail. He told The Star it was not apparent who sent the money. He told The Star he gave the money to charity - a church in Florida. Falmagne said the NCAA was aware of this and has receipts of the transaction that he provided to the organization.
He said it was not true that he agreed to accept $20,000 for securing De Sousa's enrollment at Kansas.
"That did not happen. There's nothing there," Falmagne told The Star.
De Sousa appeared in 20 of 23 games in 2017-18, when KU made the Final Four, before sitting out last season.
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