Ayo Dosunmu may have just had the best 24 hours of his life.
Just one night ago, Ayo Dosunmu, walked across his old stomping grounds at the University of Illinois’s State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois, for his ceremonial jersey hanging.
Becoming the 34th Illini to receive the honor, Dosunmu walked out and stood at halfcourt as he simultaneously looked up at a video screen that played a congratulatory video of his close-knit circle at the school saying positive words and congratulations on his special night.
Dosunmu averaged 16.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists over his career at the University of Illinois.
He rained in 20.1 points per game, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game in his final season as an Illini. He was a Naismith and Wooden award finalist, All Big-Ten and Big Ten tournament MVP.
After his congratulatory video, he ripped down an orange ribbon, unveiling an all-white banner with a graphic of his number eleven jersey and his name in bold, blue lettering.
Not only were his friends and family present at the event, but his new teammate, DeMar DeRozan, traveled to share the moment with him. Dosunmu said of DeRozan “that’s the kind of leader he is” after his ceremony.
Dosunmu watched as his old team beat up on conference rival Maryland 76-64 to improve their record to 11-3 on the season. His old partner and teammate, Kofi Cockburn, showcased an impressive 23-point, 18-rebound double-double, shooting 9-of-12 from the floor. Seemed fitting for Dosunmu’s special night.
Dosunmu reminisced with the press about his final days at Illinois. He spoke of the atmosphere of playing Iowa in his final game with fans present. He talked about the early mornings and late nights that contributed to all his work at the school. Also, he talked about the dreams he had of success at Illinois.
“I remember talking about the Big Ten, talking about winning the tournament,” Dosunmu said. “You know, all those dreams and aspirations that I had.”
Now, nearly 10 months after the final buzzer rang on Dosunmu’s career at Illinois, by a loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Illinois’s little brother, Loyola-Chicago, his dreams have changed.
In a special, homecoming fashion, Dosunmu accomplished the dream of making it to the NBA after his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls, selected him with the eighth pick in the second round of the 2021 NBA draft.
That summer, after detrimental injuries to Coby White and Patrick Williams, Dosunmu found his niche on the floor with the team. From running in transition, playing overly-aggressive defense and consistently working on becoming a catch-and-shoot three-point shooter, Dosunmu turned the heads of Bulls fans.
Dosunmu receives praise consistently from staff, players and fans for his early and incredible development and unparalleled mentality on the floor. Constantly playing aggressively and never backing down from a challenge have become his trademark off the bench.
Dosunmu Versus Wizards
Around 24 hours after Dosunmu soaked in the love and praise from his alma mater, he showed out on Friday night versus the Washington Wizards at home.
Dosunmu got to work early in his substitution, taking a loose ball to the other end and bodying a burly Corey Kispert for a bucket. On another time down he fed big man Tony Bradley with a nifty bounce pass in the paint for another easy bucket. Then he drained one of his three three-point makes from the corner.
At the half, Dosunmu had 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field, including two rebounds, three assists and one steal. He tied second on the team for the highest plus/minus with a plus-ten floor rating.
Later in the fourth, Dosunmu put up his last-three pointer from the corner, followed by a dribble-and-pop for another bucket on the baseline with Bradley Beal contested in his face.
Dosunmu admitted after the game that Beal commented on his move because Beal had given him advice during the game about it.
Beal said: “I didn’t say use it on me. I said use it in the future.”
Dosunmu drew two turnovers, uncharacteristically off of travel violations, in which Donovan and Beal both gave him advice to be more decisive in his first dribble.
Dosunmu heeded the advice quickly and buried a quick bucket over Beal.
Ayo Dosunmu said Bradley Beal gave him some advice during the game about how to make this one move. Dosunmu then used the move and said Beal told him, "I didn't say use it on me. I said use it in the future."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 8, 2022
Dosunmu finished his night with 18 points, tying for the third-highest scorer on the team. He added five rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks for a terrific two-way performance.
His play on Friday night foreshadowed a potential larger stake of the team he could be in the future. He could be seeing more time with games like that, filled with aggressiveness on both ends of the floor and outstanding amounts of hustle.
It’s even been discussed that Dosunmu could run Coby White out of town with his play, as the Bulls could capitalize on having two tantalizing point guards off the bench in the trade market for a predestined move for a big man.
No matter what the future holds, all we know now is that Dosunmu’s state on the Bulls seems to be characteristically the same as his jersey number hung in the rafters of the State Farm Center at Illinois.