Ayo Dosunmu and Malcolm Hill are both currently on the Chicago Bulls roster. Said Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood: “It’s pretty cool seeing two Illini on our state [NBA] team.”
With that in mind, We give you a two part series, focusing on each player. We start with Ayo, who just last week got selected by “GM” Gary Payton for the NBA Rising Stars game on All-Star weekend. Dosunmu may have been drafted very late, but he’s worked his way up to the top of the rotation on a very good Bulls team that currently sits third in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls will head into tomorrow night’s contest at Charlotte just 1.5 games out of first place in the conference. They’ve made a good bet this season too at no id verification casinos as they 30-21-1 against the spread this season. The Bulls have a winning record on the road this year, and the Hornets are the epitome of mediocrity this season, so Chicago are substantially favored.
Given the way that Ayo Dosunmu has run the Bulls offense this season, with fluidity, one has to really regard the Morgan Park grad as a true NBA Rookie of the Year award candidate. Underwood says he’ll never discount Ayo Dosunmu from accomplishing anything in this game, including capturing this specific plaudit.
Staying on His Grind
“Ayo is going to do Ayo, he’s going to work,” said Underwood. “I never questioned that he would find his way to the court. He’s maturing He’s getting stronger.”
Underwood then said the best is to yet to come from the young Chicagoan and USA Today College Player of the Year, adding:
“I’ve always said Ayo’s best basketball will be in his mid-20s because his body will continue to mature, he’ll continue to work and get better.”
“You’re either born with it or not, that competitive drive, and he has it.”
Underwood also added in a bit of dry humor, to go along with his in depth analysis, joking that “somewhere along the line I took away [ Ayo Dosunmu ‘s] jumping ability, but now he’s dunking on everybody.”
Ayo Dosnumu has seen in action in all 50 games this season, starting 16. He’s averaging just under 8ppg in about 25 mpg. His 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio is second on the team only to Alex Caruso.
Underwood discussed Billy Donovan’s belief and trust in the former Illini guard, and how Dosunmu earned it. The Illini coach also mentioned how Demar Derozan mentored the native of the Morgan Park neighborhood, helping him come along
“Got your best player, a veteran taking a rookie under his wing,” said Underwood.
“I think a lot of things have fallen into place there.”
Illini wing and glue guy Jacob Grandison was a teammate of Ayo Dosunmu for two years so it was easy for him to speak of his success: “he was and has always been pro ready.”
Grandison pointed out that the Bulls, NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks and the Illini actually do some of the same things, from a scheme perspective, similarly on the defensive. He mentioned defending ball screens, and if 2021-22 is anything in hoops, it is indeed the year of the ball screen.
“They didn’t take Ayo until the middle of the second round, so he was slept on,” said Grandison.
“Still, in some way, despite everything he did (in college, awards and such), but it didn’t phase him.
“He kept chopping wood and kept doing his thing, super proud of him.”
It really is an astounding home grown, home town pride kind of story. From doing his college decision announcement at the Jordan Brand store on State St. to becoming the best closer in college basketball to NBA All-Star weekend.
And there is still a whole lot more (and better) things to come from Ayo Dosunmu.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”Follow paulmbanks