CHAMPAIGN — The deadline is coming.
Early entrants in the NBA draft who haven’t made their decision yet will have to soon.
The NCAA adjusted its withdrawal date in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s now 10 days after the NBA draft combine or Aug. 3. Considering there’s only been preliminary discussion on a possible combine — one that wouldn’t happen until late August if it happens at all — means those early entrants are down to 25 days.
So, Ayo Dosunmu’s down to 25 days in making his choice.
The Illinois guard declared for the draft on April 15 — just more than a month after the Illini’s 2019-20 season came to an unexpected, immediate end.
Not quite three months later, Dosunmu’s focus is still on the draft and the NBA. It’s where he’s long envisioned himself playing the 2020-21 season, and his objective hasn’t changed.
“I’m focused on staying in, so I’m not really thinking about pulling my name,” Dosunmu told The News-Gazette on Wednesday. “I’m focused on the draft. With COVID, a lot of things can go wrong. That’s a different conversation I’ll have at a different time. Right now, I’m just focused on gathering information from teams and trying to schedule meetings, conversations and calls and getting to know teams much more.”
The various mocks for the 2020 NBA draft haven’t changed much in the past couple months. Dosunmu isn’t projected to be a first-round pick — something that was at times seen as a possibility during his freshman season. The current projections instead have the 6-foot-5 guard seen as a late second-round prospect.
Dosunmu has been in regular contact with teams throughout the league the past several months, however, and said the picture of his status is clearer now than it was when he first entered his name in the draft.
“I’m talking with more teams and asking a little more tough questions,” Dosunmu said. “I’m just trying to see, ultimately, where they see me at. … There’s much more clarity, and it’s come from asking those tough questions. I’m asking those questions that my camp isn’t afraid to ask, and we’re getting honest answers.
“Some have been great. Some have gone not so well. That’s part of the process. All it really takes is one team to fall in love and be convinced by my game, my work ethic and my desire to win and get better.”
Dosunmu stayed in shape at home in the early stages of the pandemic, but has been back in the gym consistently for a couple months. He has a trainer, but he’s also putting in work with his dad and brother.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I’ve been able to get a lot of reps up. I’ve been working on my shot, working on my game just living in the gym and getting better. That’s what it’s all about — getting better and working as hard as you can so when the lights come on, you’ll be perfectly fine.”
Dosunmu said he’s worked on his explosiveness in his workouts, but his primary focus has centered around his jump shot. He’s stretched his range to the NBA three-point line and is working on situational shooting, like off-the-dribble and in catch-and-shoot scenarios.
Dosunmu was a better scorer and rebounder as a sophomore at Illinois, but his outside shooting dipped. His overall percentage actually rose from 43.5 percent to 48.4 percent — no doubt a result of the work he put in on his mid-range game last offseason — but he struggled from the three-point line. Dosunmu shot 35.2 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman and just 29.6 percent as a sophomore.
Even with some time away from the gym in the spring because of the pandemic, he fell back into a rhythm once he could get on the court again.
“I didn’t lose it,” he said. “It’s muscle memory. I just had to go back to form shooting and taking my time, and it came back pretty quick.”