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BTPowerhouse 25 - No. 2 - Ayo Dosunmu

BTPowerhouse’s staff counts down the best players in the Big Ten heading into the 2020-’21 season.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

In the months leading up to the 2020-’21 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the ‘BTPowerhouse 25,’ which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.

Today’s edition of the BTPowerhouse 25 will take a look at Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu. The 6’5” junior chose to return to campus instead of entering the NBA Draft and will now lead an Illini team looking to have their best season in quite some time.

BTPowerhouse 25 - No. 2 Ayo Dosunmu

  • Eligibility: Junior
  • Career Totals: 62 games, 2006 minutes, 940 points, 258 rebounds, 204 assists, 25 steals
  • 2019-20 Averages: 33.5 min, 16.6 pts, 4.3 rebs, 3.3 asts, 0.2 blks, 0.8 stls
  • Positional Role: Guard

Heading into the upcoming season Ayo Dosunmu has earned preseason AP All-America Team, preseason CBS Sports First-Team All-American, unanimous preseason All-Big Ten Team and Bob Cousy Award Watch List honors. That is, of course, following a sophomore season that saw Dosunmu earn All-Big Ten honors. And to top it off the media recently picked Dosunmu as co-player of the year (alongside Luka Garza), with the media also picking Illinois to win the conference.

When everything is said and done people are expecting big things from Illinois and Dosunmu in 2020-21.

Player Strengths

Dosunmu led the Illini in scoring last season with 16.6 points per game while shooting 54.4% from inside. His ability to drive to the rim and score at ease, while also creating his own shot off the ball, proved to be key for an Illinois team that went from 12 to 21 wins last year. Besides his ability to score, Dosunmu also proved to be a solid distributor, averaging 3.3 assists per game. Anchoring the Illini backcourt, Dosunmu could have likely stayed in the NBA Draft and ended up on a NBA roster. But now he’ll have a chance to improve on a successful sophomore season.

Areas for Improvement

One of the biggest problems Illinois had was scoring the ball consistently, averaging 72.2 points per game (137th in the nation). That’s not awful, but what is was there 30.9% three point shooting percentage, putting them at 297th in the nation. The Illini’s inability to shoot the ball is problematic when you realize that their leading scorer shot 29.6% from three. Even more so when you realize their second option on offense was a seven foot center that doesn’t shoot from outside.

Dosunmu wasn’t always a poor shooter, shooting 35.2% from three during his freshman season. But his three point shooting percentage dropping almost six percentage points last season is problematic. Especially if Illinois can’t consistently shoot the ball once again. The Illini have a lot of talent but their consistency issues on offense could prove detrimental to winning the Big Ten.

Player Projection

The combination of Dosunmu in the backcourt and Kofi Cockburn in the frontcourt creates a dynamic duo that should help Illinois compete with anyone in the Big Ten. There’s plenty of returning talent and a few intriguing new players, but it’ll all mean very little if the Illini can’t improve their shooting. Even if Illinois finishes towards the back of the Big Ten in shooting, they should still end up in the NCAA Tournament in March. But if they can’t improve on that front the idea of them winning the Big Ten is laughable.

Dosunmu had his shooting slip last year and it’s a major area he needs to improve on if he wants to improve his draft stock for 2021. He might not magically turn into a 40% three point shooting specialist, but look for some improvement from last year. If his outside game develops then he should be set for a huge season in 2020-21. And if Dosunmu improves on last year Illinois should be looking pretty good this winter.

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