On Wednesday, the Illinois Fighting Illini got some tough news as junior guard Ayo Dosunmu announced that he would be foregoing his remaining eligibility and entering the 2021 NBA Draft. Dosunmu has been one of the program’s best players in recent memory, so his departure will certainly leave a mark for Brad Underwood and his staff.
During his three seasons in Champaign, Dosunmu played in a total of 90 games and averaged 16.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. He was arguably the biggest reason Illinois went 24-7 overall last season, earned a one seed in the NCAA Tournament, and narrowly missed out on the Big Ten regular season title.
The unfortunate reality for Illinois fans is replacing a player like Dosunmu is virtually impossible. He was an All-American that put up massive numbers during his career. That’s just not something you expect to show up on a regular basis. Even if you recruit and develop, it could take years to come across another player like this.
With that said, there are some decent returners in the backcourt. Andre Curbelo showed some serious flashes down the stretch and players like Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams will get a free “COVID year” to return to campus. If Illinois can return at least two of the three, there should be plenty for Underwood and staff to work with this year.
This season might not have ended how Dosunmu and others might have hoped, but the impact of his career in Champaign can’t be denied. We’ll now have to wait and see what Illinois can do to replace the do-it-all guard.