There’s more #UnfinishedBusiness in Champaign this upcoming season.
Rising junior Ayo Dosunmu has withdrawn his name from the 2020 NBA Draft and will return to Illinois, in a decision he announced on Twitter.
Dosunmu declared for the draft in April via a creative social media video interacting with fans.
Dosunmu was then reportedly invited to next month’s NBA Combine last week.
Dosunmu declaring came as no surprise after an electric sophomore season that culminated in being named to the All-Big Ten’s First Team, but he didn’t get to complete his mission in Champaign: Bring Illinois back to the NCAA Tournament. The season was cut short before Illinois got to play in the Big Ten Tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a sophomore, Dosunmu led the Illini in scoring for the second straight season at 16.6 points per game — good enough for fifth in the Big Ten — and also led the team in assists. He entered the season as a potential lottery pick, but saw his stock dip a bit with questions surrounding his shooting stroke.
The 6-foot-5 guard came up huge for the Illini down the stretch on multiple occasions this season and was on track to lead the Illini to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013. Season accolades include Big Ten Player of the Week (Feb. 24), Jay Bilas Co-National Player of the Week (Jan. 27), and a selection to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Team.
There’s plenty of reasons why Ayo would pull his name out of the draft. One is that what he was hearing — likely being a mid-to-late second round pick — wasn’t going to satisfy him. But more likely is that the draft and upcoming NBA season is riddled with uncertainty amid the pandemic, and the opportunity to play in the college basketball season (even if it looks different than normal) and raise his stock in hopes of being a first-round pick in 2021 is too good to pass up.
Whatever it is, we were thrilled Ayo was going to get his chance in the NBA. But I think we’re even more thrilled that we get to see what a third season looks like in Orange and Blue, one where he can be paired with arguably the best guard group in the country with freshmen Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo and senior Trent Frazier.