After NCAA Tournament loss, Ayo Dosunmu will take the 'next step,' coach says | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Saturday / July 24.
  • After NCAA Tournament loss, Ayo Dosunmu will take the ‘next step,’ coach says

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    After Illinois lost to Loyola Chicago in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday, head coach Brad Underwood said junior guard Ayo Dosunmu will take the “next step” in his career — presumably to the NBA Draft

    The 6-foot-5 junior is ranked the No. 19 “Best Available” prospect in the draft, per ESPN.com.

    “Ayo is an unbelievable leader,” Underwood said following the 71-58 loss. “Ayo will go take that next step, and deservedly so. But Ayo has done more for this program and these young guys, Ayo and Ace and Coleman Hawkins and Brandon Lieb and all these guys that are going to continue to build this.”

    Dosunmu was named first-team All-America and is one of four finalists for the Naismith award. He averaged 20.6 points, 6.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds for the Big Ten Tournament champions.

    Still, he was disappointed with his performance Sunday. He shot 4-of-10 for nine points, with two rebounds, two assists and six turnovers.

    “I definitely felt like I let my team down today, but I can take it,” he said. “I can take the criticism. I can take whatever my come, I can take it. I’ve been through it all. It’s another bump in the road. Get back, get some rest, get back at it.”

    Asked how he hopes to be remembered, Dosunmu said: “I’m hopefully remembered as the guy that really helped turn this program around. That’s what it’s all about. When I came here to Illinois, I came here to of course try to win a National Championship, but my main goal was to help get this program back on the map, help get this program back as one of the national powerhouses.

    “We didn’t get it done today, but at the end of the day this group of guys, there’s no one on the team I want to go to war with. All season long, COVID protocols, able to play every game, not having any positive tests. I just think we sacrificed so much to get in this position, and I’m extremely proud of the guys, Coach Underwood.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.