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Ayo Dosunmu not declaring for NBA Draft

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Dosunmu will return to Illinois for his sophomore season.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

He’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

Ayo could’ve tested the waters and declared for the NBA Draft, but he won’t even do that.

Illinois’ All-Big Ten Freshman Ayo Dosunmu announced today that he will not declare for the 2019 NBA Draft today.

He could have entered but not yet hired an agent, which would’ve maintained his amateurism. This would’ve allowed Dosunmu to put his name into the NBA Draft and become eligible to be selected on draft night June 20. He would be able to attend workouts for NBA teams and compete in the NBA Draft Combine, if selected. Then, Dosunmu would have several days to weigh his options and choose whether to keep his name in or withdraw from the NBA Draft.

If he withdrew, he’d be eligible to play for the Illini again next season.

Of course, as Illinois fans — and even journalists covering the team — that’s what we all want. We want Ayo back. The Illini have the potential to make some noise next season, and having Dosunmu as the core of that would be a huge assist.

But, it’s his choice, and he’ll come back, even if Dosunmu’s name has been floated around several NBA mock drafts over recent months.

Here’s one from ESPN in January that would have Dosunmu headed to the Golden State Warriors at No. 25 overall.

Ayo Dosunmu is a good-looking combo guard with great size for the point guard position at 6-5. The No. 3 combo guard and No. 32 overall player in the 247Sports Composite, Dosunmu is averaging 13.6 points and 2.8 assists per game, shooting 39.7 percent from three.

From The Chicago Tribune’s Shannon Ryan in February:

Mock NBA draft boards recently have taken note of Dosunmu. Sports Illustrated listed him No. 32 on its updated board this week, praising his “mature decision-making and well-rounded skill set” that “make him an intriguing long-term bet.” ESPN’s latest mock draft had Dosunmu going 26th with a comparison to the Nuggets’ Malik Beasley, who was picked 19th in 2016 after one season at Florida State.

And then our Matt O’Neall wrote about some draft comparisons for Dosunmu in February, as well.

Many places currently have Ayo as a potential late first-round, or early second-round pick. I think what sets Ayo apart from a lot of these potential comparisons is his feel for the game and “true point guard” skills. I think he may have a truly elite skill for running a NBA offense and playmaking in the full court and half court that seamlessly translates to the next level. I think that presence and skill will make up for any slight lack of athleticism or shooting that certain comparisons have over him. And it’s why I think he’s going to be a starting point guard in the NBA for quite a long time.

So, while you may sit at home and think, ‘Well, Ayo isn’t ready for the next level,’ the mock draft people do.

And, sure, his stats weren’t absolutely other-worldly at times this year. Dosunmu appeared to disappear in some games, while coming alive in others, like his magnificent 24-point performance in Illinois’ upset win over then-No. 9 Michigan State, or when he almost carried Illinois to a win over Georgetown early in the season without Trent Frazier.

Plenty of players have left college early because the NBA was a viable option to cash in on potential. For some, it has worked. For others, it has failed.

Either way, it’s up to the player, his family, and those around him who he chooses will have a say. If the Dosunmu clan, who attended nearly every game at State Farm Center this year, plus several others, choose to let someone like Brad Underwood voice his opinion on the matter, then Underwood will get to chime in. If Ayo himself thought he’s ready and wanted to hear things at the scouting combine, then he would’ve jumped.

But he won’t do that.

From interviewing Ayo, seeing his press conferences and the way he carries himself on the court, he’s more than ready for the NBA.

But there’s always next year for that. For now, Ayo is coming back to Champaign in 2019-20 officially.

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