Ayo Dosunmu’s dream has come true — and he’s going to get to do it in his hometown.
It took a little while, but the 21-year-old heard his name called Thursday during the second round of the 2021 NBA draft, as Dosunmu was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 38th pick, the first time an Illini player has been drafted since Meyers Leonard in 2012.
Dosunmu has always been known for his slashing ability offensively as well as his excellence in transition. The Illini legend made a name for himself as one of the most clutch players in the sport over the course of his three seasons in Champaign.
Dosunmu’s 6-foot-5 inch frame from the guard position provides him some nice versatility on both ends of the floor — and a displayed improved jump shot and stronger on-ball defense allowed his draft stock to rise during his First-Team All-American campaign last season.
He finished the 2020-21 season as the only player in the NCAA over the last 11 seasons to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and five assists and that earned him First-Team All-Big Ten, All-American honors as well as a the Bob Cousy Award for nation’s best point guard and a place on the finalist lists for the Naismith, Wooden and Oscar Robertson awards.
What separates Dosunmu is his ability to rise to the occasion when it matters most, as he frequently hit clutch buzzer-beaters. He also was named Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player as he led the Illini to their first tournament championship and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament since 2005.
It’s not only the on court prowess that makes Dosunmu an impressive prospect, but he handles himself with class off of it. The Chicago native is known to be a big family man, as well as a man of high character. Scouts and coaches alike have been impressed with Dosunmu’s makeup off the court, just as much as his performance on it.
What sticks out most about Dosunmu is the improvement he made individually in each of his three seasons in Champaign — making it more impressive is that the team also took massive strides over the course of his career at Illinois.
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood was with Dosunmu leading up to the draft, and told local media Wednesday how much Dosunmu deserves this moment.
“His best days are in front of him,” Underwood said. “Some team is going to be ecstatic. Good things should happen to good people and good things should happen to people who work really hard and Ayo is going to be rewarded for that.”
Dosunmu helped turn a program from disappointment to relevancy, and Illini nation will always be thankful for his immense contributions. But now, they all have a new jersey to buy as Dosunmu’s dreams of being drafted have come true.