Shofolahan "Flo" Da-Silva, a senior point guard at USciences, has followed in the footsteps of older brother Sho. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
For the last 22 years, Dr. Shonola Da-Silva and his wife Morayo Da-Silva have watched their son, Flo Da-Silva, accomplish some impressive feats both on and off the basketball court.
But all along, there was something that bothered Dr. Da-Silva about his middle child.
“The thing we don’t like about Flo,” he said, “is when everybody says ‘this is Sho’s brother.’”
Flo’s older brother by two-and-a-half years, Sho Da-Silva blazed a similar trail as the one he’s on: standout hoops career at Bishop Eustace High School in South Jersey, accepting an athletic scholarship to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, becoming a four-year player for head coach Dave Pauley and one of the leaders of the Devils by his upperclassmen years.
Some younger siblings can’t wait to get out of the older one’s shadow, to divert from that path as soon as they’re able to. But Flo insists he’s never been jealous of his older brother. Quite the opposite.
“It definitely never has [bothered me], as much as it probably has with my parents,” the younger Da-Silva brother laughed. “It never really has because of what he’s done, and I’m proud of him for doing it, and it gives me something to reach towards.
“But,” he added, “it is good to make a name for myself.”
Flo is actually a nickname, short for Shofolahan; Sho is short for Shofolarin. It’s been Flo and Sho since they were babies.
He’s actually found being the younger brother helpful when it comes to that, as they’ve had many of the same teachers: “I’d walk into a classroom, they’re calling attendance, they can’t pronounce my name, and then they realize it’s just like my brother’s name, and they’re like ‘oh, you’re Sho’s brother.’”
They also have a younger sister, named Jola, currently in eighth grade.
Sho had an impressive career of his own at USciences. A 2016 graduate with a degree in biology on a pre-med track, the older Da-Silva brother averaged 20.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg as a senior, despite standing just an inch taller than his brother at 6-foot-3; he finished his hoops career with 1,598 points in a Devils uniform.
While Flo hasn’t been quite the scorer his brother was, all his other numbers stack up just fine.
One of two seniors in the starting lineup for University of the Sciences this season, Flo Da-Silva is the Devils’ second-leading scorer (12.7 ppg) and rebounder (8.0 rpg), as well as its leader in the assist (4.4/game) and steal (3.3/game) categories; that last number is good for third in the country in the NCAA’s second division. Injuries over the last few years will prevent the 6-2, 200-pound guard from putting up the same career totals as his older brother, but his impact on the court is no less.
A three-year starter and team captain, Da-Silva showed his importance to the team in a win over CACC rival Jefferson on Saturday afternoon. With the Devils locked in a tight battle with the Rams for the lead in the CACC’s South division, Da-Silva -- while also fighting off a cold -- made play after play down the stretch to help his team to a 62-54 win.
WIth under six minutes left, his layup gave his team a five-point lead. With under three to play, Da-Silva dish to freshman Brandon Starr for a 3-pointer kept it a four-point advantage. Under two minutes to play, he made his biggest impact of the whole game: a three-point play followed by a layup to turn a four-point lead into nine; then after, Jefferson hit a 3-pointer, Da-Silva assisted on Tanner Kerr’s layup which put the game away with 46 seconds left.
“I don’t think he was 100 percent, I think he was really sick,” Pauley said, “and he put on a little burst of speed there at the end and controlled the game at both ends. He’s one of those few players that can change the game defensively, it’s so rare today, it’s rare.”
Pauley is no stranger to having brothers under his watch; by his recollection, he’s coached 17 sets of brothers in his 36 years at the school (18 as head coach). Just in the time the Da-Silva’s have been at the school, they’ve been teammates with the Kerr trio of Garret, Wes and Tanner; the Kerwin twins (Dylan and Jack) and now the two Gregorits brothers, as senior forward Will was joined this year by his brother Tom, a freshman guard.
The Da-Silva’s bond has been as strong, if not stronger than the rest, according to their coach.
“Those two, they’ve enjoyed playing with each other,” Pauley said. “Just support each other, on and off the court. The things that don’t show up in the stats -- encouraging each other, pushing each other.”
So far this year, USciences’ season is off to a strong start. The Devils are 9-5 overall but 5-1 in CACC South play, the same conference mark as Jefferson and one game ahead of Delaware schools Goldey-Beacom and Wilmington.
It’s certainly an improvement over last season, when -- with Da-Silva sidelined by injury early in the season -- the Devils lost nine straight after winning their season opener, finishing 13-15 overall (11-8 CACC) and losing in the CACC quarterfinals, a year after losing in the league semifinals following a 17-win campaign in 2015-16.
This year is the most promising since Da-Silva’s freshman year, (2014-15), when USciences had its best season ever, winning 25 games -- including a monumental victory over D-I Drexel -- and advancing to the NCAA Tournament, where star wing Garret Kerr led the Devils to their first-ever win in their first-ever appearance.
“It set a really high bar for me for the next two years,” Da-Silva said. “And it kind of led to a little bit of disappointment, going from freshman year, beating a D-I team, making the tournament, to losing in the semifinals, not making the tournament, and having a slump season, but that was just amazing. That was what we’re trying to create now as seniors, me and Will.”
Though his statis are more than solid, and with his size and athleticism he’d have a decent shot at finding a spot abroad if he wanted to extend his playing career, Da-Silva knows that’s not going to happen. The biomedical sciences major has his sights set on doing a post-baccalaureate year at Temple, Drexel or Rowan, with the plan of transitioning right into one of those institution’s medical schools the following year. Like his father, a critical care doctor, Da-Silva said he’s interested in trauma, but is also in pediatrics.
What all of that means is his basketball career has one semester left, rec leagues and pick-up games notwithstanding. That’s 13 regular-season games, beginning with one at Bloomfield on Wednesday night, plus hopefully a few league playoff games and perhaps one or two more.
“It definitely adds a lot of pressure knowing that it’s all over after this,” he said. “I know that come March, these win-or-go home games are going to be even more, because it’s either win, or it’s over.”
After that, Flo Da-Silva will have to take his jersey off for the final time, just like his brother did two years ago. Only nobody’s going to say that Sho’s younger brother had himself a terrific hoops career.
They’ll say Flo did.