Underwood, Illini look to sell Ayo Dosunmu’s success in recruiting


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Ayo Dosunmu officially turned pro on Tuesday entering his name into the NBA Draft and announcing he’ll hire an agent, but his name will be used by the Illinois coaching staff for years to come. Brad Underwood and his assistants are already selling Ayo’s success and development to recruits, as they look to parlay the team’s turnaround into more wins.

“He should be the guiding light, the example, the guiding light of stick-to-it-iveness, of adversity, of hard work, you name it,” Underwood said. “And helping us win, and becoming one of the elite closers, and just watching that development, if there’s ever any better other guiding light than that, man, I don’t know what it is.”

Dosunmu is the first NCAA player in the last 11 years to average at least 20 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists per game on his was to becoming a consensus First Team All-American. The Bob Cousy award winner for the nation’s best point guard was named the USA TODAY National Player of the Year after leading the Illini to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Recruiting the next group of players is a constant juggling act for the Illini staff. Adam Miller announced he was transferring last week, further complicating next year’s roster. With Adam and Ayo both gone, the program currently has two open scholarships, but that’s only if Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams don’t return. An NCAA rule allows all seniors to come back for an extra COVID-19 season, due to the pandemic. If both players decide to return, the Illini would be one over the limit as it stands now. The other big question mark is Kofi Cockburn. If he turns pro, another scholarship will open.

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