I don’t usually sit on my couch in front of my TV for four hours anymore on any given night to watch ESPN, but tonight, like many other Illini fans, I was committed to not turning off the television until Ayo Dosunmu’s name was announced during the NBA Draft.
Unfortunately, Ayo’s name was never said after he was picked by the Chicago Bulls in the second round in the middle of a commercial break. Until the show returned from break, all we saw on the broadcast was Dosunmu’s name pop up as the Bulls’ pick at No. 38.
I’m no NBA Draft expert, and I’m sure there are better fits for Chicago at that pick basketball-wise, but as an Illini fan, an Illinois native, and a Bulls ‘fan’ — they’ve been mostly bad since they last won a title when I was 15 months old! — this was the perfect fit.
If the Bulls passed on Ayo — the hometown kid who stayed in his homestate college and returned Illinois to relevance — how could I EVER root for them again. Luckily, I won’t have to answer that question, as this pick, with Ayo falling well below what many of us expected, just made sense.
The Bulls will likely reap the benefits financially at the start with jersey sales with everyone in Chicago wanting a piece of the superstar guard, but Ayo’s just a winner on and off the court, and I’m sure that’s what will end up being key for the Bulls in the long term with him.
He was never affable like Giorgi or a jokester like Kofi, but Ayo went about everything as a professional always with his family behind him. And the excitement I can imagine with them being able to go to all the games at the United Center and sit as close to the bench as they can, that’s incredible.
And the impact this will have on Chicago basketball and the Illini program, I don't think we can quantify that.
Maybe I’m wrong about all this and Ayo’s NBA career doesn’t pan out as we hope or he never becomes much more than a role player for the Bulls. Hell, his contract isn’t even guaranteed right now (but it can be, and I expect it will be!).
But I think that won’t happen, because we know Ayo, and we know he’s a winner.
And to be able to not have to change allegiances with teams and keep cheering on the Bulls with my favorite player, well that’s priceless.
So, screw it, he got picked. This works, too.