CHAMPAIGN — Illinois fans spent most of the time between the end of Illinois’ season on March 14 in Chicago (an 83-62 loss to Iowa in the Big Ten tournament) and the NBA draft early entrant deadline on April 21 waiting on Ayo Dosunmu.
Projected at one point during his freshman season as a potential first-round pick, the general thinking was the Illini’s scoring and assists leader and second-leading rebounder would at least put his name in the NBA draft.
Jon Rothstein - college basketball insider for CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated as well as an AP Top 25 voter - has Illinois ranked at No. 7 in the Big Ten.
He wouldn’t have been alone. There were 175 early entrants, not counting international prospects. But Dosunmu skipped the process entirely even though it’s become the thing to do. The Chicago native announced April 18 he had “unfinished business” to take care of as a sophomore.
“I thought he showed a lot of maturity by coming out before everything and acknowledging he wasn’t ready and needed another year of college,” said Jon Rothstein, a college basketball insider for CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated.
Rothstein is as high on Dosunmu as he is Illinois heading into the 2019-20 season. The 6-foot-5 guard was the Illini’s Co-Most Outstanding Player following his freshman season, and his 2020 draft prospects — that will be buoyed should Illinois improve on its 12-21 record last season — have him projected as high as a potential lottery pick.
That fits with Rothstein’s current view even if he said there is some room for improvement in Dosunmu’s game in terms of overall consistency after showing he could play at an elite level as a freshman.
“He’s got the potential to be not just one of the best guards in the Big Ten, but one of the best guards in college basketball,” Rothstein said. “The thing you’re excited about if you’re looking at Ayo right now is the time when players make their biggest jump is from their freshmen to sophomore season.”