The legacy of Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu remains, even with no NCAA Tourney


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Like so many college basketball players around the country, Illinois sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu never imagined he had already played his last game this season – without even knowing it. He led Illinois with 17 points in the big win against Iowa in their regular season finale. However, the NCAA canceled the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments because of COVID-19 concerns.

Dosunmu was at the helm of a historic season for the Illini, winning the program’s most Big Ten games since 2005. The season was highlighted by his big shots in late-game situations.

“Find anyone who’s better,” Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood said. “Find anyone who’s made more game winners, impacted a team, impacted a program.”

Dosunmu’s career was met with some adversity though. This season against Michigan State, he silenced the State Farm Center after going down with a leg injury in the final seconds. Dosunmu only missed one game but he bounced back in impressive fashion, finishing his last six games, averaging 19 points.

One of his most impressive post-injury performances was scoring a game-high 24 points to lead the Illini to a win at #9 Penn State. Dosunmu defined himself as a player that loved to play on the road.

“That Mamba mentality, I just knew that our team needed a win and I knew this would be a big win,” Dosunmu said. “So I just wanted to come out here and do whatever I [could] to help my team win.”

“My love for Ayo runs well beyond what you guys can even imagine,” Underwood admitted. “You’re talkin’ about a young man who was getting ready to perform on the stage that he loved the most and that was the big stage.”

The Illini never got their chance to dance, with the NCAA Tournament ending before it started. If Dosunmu decides to turn pro, he’ll leave with unfinished business but has left an unforgettable mark on Illinois basketball.”

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