Ayo Dosunmu Injury Could Change Course of Illini Basketball Season



Last night, in what was essentially a replay of the loss to Miami in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (or the home loss to Maryland two seasons ago), Illinois lost 70-69 to Michigan State. The game result was a gut punch, but what happened in its final moments could completely alter the course of the Illini basketball season.

Ayo Dosunmu suffered a leg injury and had to be carried off the court. Any time you can’t walk on your own volition it’s bad, but as of now we have official confirmation that the extent of the injury is not that bad. Take a look at the video of the non-contact injury from last night just ICYMI:

 The important thing is that there is no structural damage, and that is great news. Illinois basketball did not give a timeline for his return however. Coach Brad Underwood released the following statement about the injury a couple hours ago:

“What happened with Ayo last night is as difficult a situation as you’ll see a young man go through, and a feeling where the outcome of the game goes from primary to secondary in a split second.”

“We received positive news today from the MRI scan. Our medical staff will work with him around the clock on treatment and recovery. Ayo and his family have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from Illini Nation and college basketball fans everywhere.”



Ayo, the team’s leading scorer, has probably established himself as the team’s best player. He is their undisputed closer, as he has a cold-blooded capacity to hit the big shot in crunch time. Of course, on some nights this season, it’s been the Kofi Cockburn show, as the big freshman has often been the best player on the floor.

He’s been a big difference maker, especially on the defensive end where he’s been a rim protector, and he’s right there with Ayo as the team’s 1A and 1B alpha dog, more or less. Of course, Kofi has been way less consistent than Dosunmu and the freshman has entered into a four game slump recently.

In short, Ayo Dosunmu is the player Illini basketball can least afford to lose and now that they’re facing this reality, let’s see what might lie ahead.

ayo dosunmu

In the best case scenario, in which Dosunmu misses very little time, the Illini are still not likely winning the league title. Illinois had a big chance to take control of the conference race Friday night, but they didn’t show up in the second half.

They had another opportunity for a statement win/to remain near the top of the standings last night, but they didn’t show up in the first half. Now, with road trips to #13 Penn State and Rutgers (who are undefeated at home) looming, the next two games on the schedule are even tougher. Then comes two very winnable games, even without Ayo, against the two NUs, who comprise the bottom of the Big Ten barrel.

Then you have three toss-up games: Indiana and Iowa at home, Ohio State on the road. At worst, Illinois should still get to 18 or 19 wins, 10 or 11 in the league and a #8 or #9 seed in the tournament.

brad underwood

At best, they’ll finish well above .500 in the league and in contention for a double bye (top four positions) in the Big Ten Tournament. Then perhaps a #5 or #6 seed in the big dance.

Without Ayo Dosunmu at 100% though, it will be a much tougher hill to climb.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

Speak Your Mind