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Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu announced Friday he is withdrawing his name from the NBA draft and returning to the Fighting Illini for his junior season. "Since a kid, I've been working, my dream is to play in the NBA. But first, I need that national championship," Dosunmu said in a video posted to Twitter. "Year 3."
Still, if the shot comes along, there is reason to believe in him as a potential first round pick in 2021. Dosunmu averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists, but more than that, he was the closer for an Illinois team that looked poised to potentially make a deep NCAA Tournament run. He hit more big shots this season to either win games or ice them than any player in the country. In the last five minutes, you knew he was getting the ball, and he just methodically got to his spot in the middle of the floor — particularly around the right elbow — and hit shot after shot. He’s a blur in transition, where his natural athletic gifts play up. Defensively, he plays hard and takes on tough assignments at both guard spots. Sources around basketball are also quick to note that Dosunmu is known to have a terrific work ethic and motor. He’s constantly in the gym, and has a real positive competitiveness to the way he approaches the game. He’s the kind of kid that teams are easily going to be able to sell themselves on once he fixes those skill-based issues.
The NBA is his future, and he took a step toward that dream by declaring as an early entrant for this year’s draft last month. “Definitely the outlook would be me leaning toward going pro because that’s what I’m working toward,” Ayo Dosunmu said. “That’s my goal at the end of the day, to play in the NBA and work as hard as I can to be picked as high as possible. Of course, I didn’t sign with an agent because there’s so many uncertainties, but if everything goes the right way and everything gets back on track, of course I’ll be staying in the draft and working out to be the best player I can be.”
The lottery and combine — both originally scheduled for this month — have been postponed. That’s left the door at least cracked open for Dosunmu to return to Illinois for a third season. “There’s always a possibility,” he said. “That’s why I haven’t signed with an agent yet. There’s so much uncertainty I don’t know and we don’t know. It would be foolish for me to say I’m signing with an agent without knowing what could happen tomorrow or what could happen next week.”
Illinois star Ayo Dosunmu declared for the NBA draft Wednesday evening, making the announcement with a video posted on his Twitter account. The sophomore guard can receive feedback from NBA teams and return to Illinois if he withdraws before the NCAA’s June 3 deadline for maintaining eligibility.
Illinois freshman guard Ayo Dosunmu announced via his Twitter account Thursday that he will be returning to school. “I stayed home to help [Head] Coach [Brad] Underwood turn the Illinois program around,” said Dosunmu in his video statement. “We beat some ranked teams this season. We tasted some success, but we didn’t dance. Illinois needs to dance.”
Ayo Dosunmu’s father told the Tribune in February that his son likely would test the NBA draft waters but would listen to advice from scouts before making a decision. Dosunmu avoided answering questions about his plans to evaluate his NBA potential. “I’m not focused on it,” he said. “I’m focused on playing together and getting bigger and stronger in the offseason.”
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