Bill Self is notorious for quickly yanking players who fail in their defensive assignments, aren't in position for a rebound or take foolish shots. He can't do that this season thanks to his thinnest roster in 15 seasons as Kansas head coach.
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Kansas has played every game this season with only seven scholarship players, including Sunday's 10-point home loss to Arizona State, during which they allowed the Sun Devils to score 95 points on 51-percent shooting. When Self took on three transfers — Dedric and K.J. Lawson (Memphis) and Charlie Moore (Cal) — who would must sit out the season, he knew there would be numbers issues. He did not, however, anticipate this.
Following the transfer of Jack Whitman (a grad transfer himself who never played for Kansas) over the summer, the roster shrunk to eight scholarship players. While Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe would be available second semester, their depth would be tested. Then moments before the season opener, the program announced five-star freshman forward Billy Preston — one of only three frontcourt players on the roster — would sit out as the school investigated car payments. Five weeks later, Preston has not played a game, forcing undersized small forward Mitch Lightfoot to play out of position and 6-foot-6 walk-on forward Clay Young to play minutes that a 6-foot-6 walk-on forward should not be playing.
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The good news among this roster chaos and two straight losses? Help should be on the way.
In addition to Cunliffe's debut — which, if nothing else, will reduce the minutes of KU's guards (three players averaging at least 32 minutes per game) — four-star 2018 power forward Silvio De Sousa is in the process of enrolling early and could join the team as early as late December. The 6-foot-9, 242-pounder from IMG Academy has been working with the school and NCAA over the last couple months on class requirements and test scores.
While both sides have remained optimistic De Sousa could enroll early and give Kansas much-needed help inside, it was never guaranteed that he'd be cleared. Then on Monday morning, he tweeted the following:
If Silvio De Sousa does join the Jayhawks for conference play, Preston is cleared soon and Cunliffe — a former four-star recruit himself — makes an immediate impact, this Kansas team could look a heck of a lot different for the final two months of the season than the first two months.