Illinois’ Dosunmu says he’s returning to chase title

  • Basketball recruiting insider.
  • Joined ESPN in 2014.
  • Graduate of University of Delaware.

Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu announced Friday he is withdrawing his name from the NBA draft and returning to the Fighting Illini for his junior season.

“Since a kid, I’ve been working, my dream is to play in the NBA. But first, I need that national championship,” Dosunmu said in a video posted to Twitter. “Year 3.”

Dosunmu, who earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last season, had been expected by many to keep his name in the draft after he entered in the spring. However, there was a good chance he would have gone undrafted, and he was ranked No. 80 in ESPN’s NBA draft rankings.

A 6-foot-5 guard from Chicago, Dosunmu averaged 16.6 points and 3.3 assists last season, establishing himself as one of the most clutch players in the country. He hit big shots late against Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State, among others. He will be considered for preseason All-America honors and Big Ten Player of the Year heading into next season.

With Dosunmu back in the fold, Illinois now waits for the NBA draft decision of rising sophomore center Kofi Cockburn. Cockburn has until Monday evening to withdraw his name and return to Champaign.

If Cockburn returns, coach Brad Underwood will have a Big Ten title contender and potential preseason top-10 team. The Fighting Illini will return five players who started at least 22 games last season, while also adding one of the top recruiting classes in the conference. Top-50 guards Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo will look to make an immediate impact in what should be an elite backcourt, while four-star forward Coleman Hawkins had a strong senior season.

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