When he chose Illinois on Oct. 19, 2017, Ayo Dosunmu was heralded as the biggest recruit to commit to Illinois since Dee Brown. The senior at Morgan Park was ranked as the No. 27 player in the country in the class of 2018.
Now, Brad Underwood and Illini fans everywhere are hoping he’s as good as advertised.
Although he did not end up winning Mr. Basketball as many expected — it went to Belleville West’s EJ Liddell — Dosunmu is still considered by many to be the best player in the state. He led Morgan Park to a second straight Class 3A state championship and scored plenty of points.
According to Shannon Ryan’s article from October, Dosunmu said he hopes to play at Illinois for one year before making the move to the pros. Let’s take a look at what the best and worst outcomes are for his upcoming freshman year:
Best Case Scenario
There are two ways of looking at this: the best case for Illinois and the best case for Dosunmu, which, unfortunately, might not be the same thing. If Underwood really wants to rebuild this roster, he is going to need Dosunmu to stay for more than one year. He is probably hoping Ayo will stick around for three or four.
That means next year will be a good year for Ayo, possibly with Trent Frazier-like numbers that get better as the season goes on and competition grows. Realistically, he could probably end the year averaging 11-14 points per game, two to four assists, and a rebound or two.
Considering the state of the roster and how young it is still, Dosunmu will be sure to get plenty of minutes and may even mature faster than Frazier did this year. This scenario would be a great start to Dosunmu’s career, but most likely would not put him in the conversation to make it at the NBA quite yet, especially since his body would still be developing.
On the other hand, Dosunmu would hope to have a Trae Young-like season as a freshman. Since Te’Jon Lucas and Mark Smith left to the transfer market and Mark Alstork graduated, Dosunmu will quite possibly be a starter from day one. He might’ve been anyway, but the scenario Illinois finds itself in makes it all the more likely. In the first eight games of the 2017-18 season, Frazier eclipsed 20 minutes only once — a blowout win over Southern. Once conference season hit, he began really leading the team at the guard position.
Dosumnu will probably play 20-plus minutes from the start, and if he’s as good as advertised, he could potentially have numbers even better than Frazier did last year. It’s unlikely, but potentially 17-20 points and 5-8 assists per game is not out of the question.
Depending on his physique and what the analysts say, this could make him a lot more likely to get his name called in the NBA Draft after his freshman year.
Worst Case Scenario
The worst case scenrio, on the flipside, is probably the same for both Illinois and Dosunmu. He struggled with injuries a bit during his senior year, so if that is a nagging problem at Illinois, it’s entirely possible his production dips quite a bit. Even if he stays healthy, there is still the possibility that he cannot quite live up to the hype, just as Mark Smith seemed to struggle in the spotlight during his freshman campaign. Don’t forget that Smith started 19 games last season.
Some people have speculated that Dosumnu is overhyped. I think a lot of this comes from pretty elementary viewing of his mixtape because he doesn’t throw down dunks like Zion Williamson and his 6-foot-4 frame still has a little room to fill out.
Most Likely Scenario
The people that think Dosunmu will be a bust or is overrated? Well, they’re probably going to have to eat crow. This kid has a lot of things going for him: speed, athleticism, finesse and ability to finish around the rim. He was a good three point shooter at Morgan Park, and we’ll see how that translates to the Big Ten.
I’m pretty optimistic he will have a year quite similar to Trent Frazier’s, especially considering how Underwood will utilize those two speedy guards in his offense. Since Smith, Lucas and Alstork are all gone, Ayo will have plenty of chances to prove himself.
When all is said and done, I think Dosunmu will be at Illinois for two or three years, and he could be another catalyst (just like Frazier) in turning this ship around. Ayo already started a movement with Illinois’ 2018 class. If he can keep that momentum up, the ship is sailing in the right direction.