When Ayo Dosunmu was drafted out of Illinois, by his hometown Chicago Bulls in the middle of the second round this past July, it was met with mixed emotions. On one hand, you had a Morgan Park graduate and Chicagoan coming home with a chance to live the dream.
On the other hand, a NBA draft first round prospect who was expected to go in the top 20, top 25 for sure, had now fallen to 38th overall. Ayo was going to a team that was guard heavy, and no one knew if there was going to be an actual place for him on the roster, let alone a real role with the team.
Well, Bulls coach Billy Donovan certainly has a lot of faith and trust in Ayo Dosunmu, as the former Illini has established himself as an integral part of rotation off the bench.
“He’s got a certain kind of makeup that I think is really special,” Donovan said of Dosunmu after the Bulls won at the Boston Celtics 128-114 last night.
“He’s ultra competitive, and he has unbelievable confidence and belief in himself. But it’s not cross-the-line arrogant. That’s really a hard combination…He just is fearless.”
Alex Caruso to Ayo Dosunmu pic.twitter.com/EXlfXGR9Z1
— Gustavo (@iamvega1982) November 2, 2021
In 22 minutes, Dosunmu was a perfect 6-6 from the field, 2-2 from three, with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a +15. Bulls star man DeMar DeRozan praised Ayo Dosunmu’s toughness: “He’s definitely the epitome of a Chicago kid.”
Last season’s USA Today College Basketball Player of the Year has surpassed Troy Brown Jr. in the bench hierarchy now, and he should only see his minutes per game average increase in the near future.
Dosunmu was a critical part of Chicago’s fourth quarter comeback last night, and his contributions have helped the team get off to a surprising 6-1 start.
The @chicagobulls storm back!
Ayo Dosunmu knocks down the triple as the Bulls go on a 21-3 run on NBA League Pass.
??: https://t.co/V0kkYEEIkG pic.twitter.com/1zcbLnf52j
— NBA (@NBA) November 2, 2021
That’s pleasantly surprised even the most “bullish” of prognosticators. Dosunmu hit the ground running on his NBA career, playing 11 minutes in the season opening win at Detroit, scoring 7 points on 3-for-8 shooting.
“I wouldn’t say it was a surprise because me being a competitor, I know that in a long season there’s gonna be ups and downs,” Dosunmu said after practice the following day, when he was asked if his being called upon came as a surprise.
“But the way my mentality is, I’m going to take every day and try to get better and try to be the best player I can be so I can gain the trust from Coach (Donovan) that whenever he decides to play me I’ll be ready.
“I really don’t ever look into how many minutes or where I’m at in the rotation or anything like that. I just try to go out here and win every day and compete and get better.”
On the young season, in which he’s played six games, Dosunmu is averaging 12.8 minutes per game, 4.5 points per game, 2.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He’s averaging 42.3% FG shooting, 57.1 from 3.
While Dosunmu had such an elite and accomplished college career, there were certainly a lot of questions about how his game would translate to the next level or not.
It’s great to see, at least early on, that there seems to be a place for him in the league.
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.”
He has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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