CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — There’s not many players who have ever suited up in the Orange and Blue like Ayo Dosunmu, the all-time leading scorer for three-year players, USA Today National Player of the Year, Big Ten Tournament Champion.
The list could go on and on, but they all stand as reasons Illinois decided to hang his jersey in the rafters so quickly. So many of his former teammates and coaches were still on the team and got to celebrate with him on Thursday. To them, he embodied everything it means to be an Illini.
“To me this is what makes Illinois basketball so damn good,” says head coach Brad Underwood. “Here’s a guy who chose to come to us when we weren’t winning. We stunk, we were a bad basketball team. But he is the definition of everything we want our program to be about. And its no surprise he’s having a great NBA career.”
“I love him so much man, for us to do that for him, for him to come back and raise his jersey the way he did, it’s really great man,” says center Kofi Cockburn.
For Dosunmu, the experience was just as moving. After three seasons in which he took Illinois from a Thursday exit at the Big Ten Tournament to conference champions, the ceremony was a perfect bookend to hard earned career.
“It was very emotional. I was trying to keep myself straight,” says Dosunmu. “I was just excited though to know, no matter what, my cousins, friends, whoever come to Illinois, my son or my daughter, whatever. My kids, kids, kids, whenever they look up there they’re going to see my name up there. That’s something that’s crazy.”