Kansas could be “night and day” different a month from now if the Jayhawks add two impact front court players, Kansas coach Bill Self said on the NCAA.com podcast March Madness 365.
Self said he should know in the next few days if the Jayhawks can add one-time signee 6-9 freshman Silvio De Sousa, who was finishing up his degree requirements at IMG Academy. Meanwhile, Self said he is also hoping to learn if freshman forward Billy Preston will be cleared to join the team in a full capacity, after being held out due to an investigation from a car accident in November. Preston has been practicing with the Jayhawks, but on the scout team.
Self said adding them to the lineup, if eligible, won’t be an issue. He said Preston would be a smoother transition since he's been with the team, but it could still take him a few weeks to get used to playing alongside Udoka Azubuike, which was the preseason plan. The full podcast will be released on NCAA.com and iTunes Thursday.
“He’s lost a little bit since he’s been held out and not worked with the first team,’’ Self said on the podcast. “Silvio will take a few weeks for sure. I’m not concerned about where we’ll be January 1, but rather February 1. We won’t change overnight from a productive standpoint or looking standpoint. But it will buy us some minutes until we get comfortable.
“We would go from a real thin team to a real deep team as long as we get them,’’ Self said. “Silvio still has to be eligible but it’s looking good. Billy still has to be allowed to play but I’m optimistic. Where we are now and where we could be in a month from now is night and day.’’
Kansas beat Nebraska in Lincoln on Sunday on a 3-pointer by Svi Mykhailiuk and then took apart Omaha Monday. Those wins came after a rare two-game losing streak, when the Jayhawks fell to Washington in Kansas City and Arizona State in Lawrence.
The Jayhawks have had to go small without Preston and De Sousa but did just recently add a big in Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe.
Self said the Jayhawks had a “crappy five days,’’ in discussing the two losses over the same week.
“Our team isn’t whole,’’ Self said. “Hopefully we’ll get whole. Right now we’ve been going with seven or eight guys and that’s not a formula for success. When you have two poor shooting nights the next thing you know you come up empty.’’
Kansas (9-2) already has NCAA-resume type wins over Kentucky (in Chicago) and Syracuse (in Miami) on neutral courts and is at Stanford Thursday before the Big 12 starts at Texas on Dec. 29.
Kansas is going for its record 14th-straight Big 12 title. But with TCU undefeated, Oklahoma possessing maybe the best player in the country in the nation’s top scorer Trae Young, and the rest of the league all putting together NCAA-type resumes, Self said, “This will be as hard as it’s ever been to win the league.”