BREAKING NEWS: 'I need that national championship' - Ayo Dosunmu Returns To Illini For Junior Season

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Ayo Dosunmu will be in an Illinois uniform for one more season.

The Illini star guard announced via a video on Twitter Friday evening that he’s withdrawing his name from NBA draft consideration and will return to college basketball for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

"Since [I was] a kid, I've been working," Dosunmu said in the narration of the video. "My dream is to play in the NBA. But first, I need that national championship. Year three.”

Among being selected as the Illinois’ Male Athlete of the Year for the 2019-20 academic year, Dosunmu was also named a first-team All-Big Ten selection this past season while leading Illinois to a 21-10 overall record and a top four finish in the league standings. He averaged a team-high 16.6 points per game to go with 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 33.5 minutes per contest.

Dosunmu’s decision should come as a bit of a surprise as the 6-foot-5 guard seemed to never waver from his vision of potentially attending a draft combine and being selected in the 2020 NBA Draft. However, the coronavirus epidemic forcing a delay in the end of this 2019-20 NBA season and therefore, the offseason draft process made Dosunmu’s draft debate a lot more complicated.

With his return to college basketball, Dosunmu is expected to be considered for All-American status and immediately puts the Illini at the top of any preseason Big Ten Conference projections.

Dosunmu put his name in the NBA draft consideration in April but was never projected to be higher than a second round pick. He and Illinois sophomore-to-be center Kofi Cockburn have until Aug. 3 to pull their name from draft consideration or still in the selection process without penalty from the NCAA. 

Dosunmu’s decision to return is the first of two draft decisions facing the Illini program. Dosunmu's announced to return immediately makes the the 2020-21 Illinois roster into what could be one of the program’s most talented group’s since the 2004-05 team that was ranked No. 1 in the polls and reached the national championship game.

The day after Dosunmu declared for the draft, Illinois head coach Brad Underwood, who has just completed his third season with the Illini, praised Dosunmu, as he’s done throughout his two-year tenure as a player for the program.

“Ayo is part of the foundation of this program. We’ll forever be grateful to him for sharing in our vision as a high school recruit, and the contributions he’s made over the last two years to lead Illinois Basketball back to national prominence,” Underwood’s statement reads.

Dosunmu was just the second player in school history to lead the team in scoring in back-to-back seasons as a freshman and sophomore since Cory Bradford in 1999 and 2000.

While on the ‘College Hoops Today’ podcast with host and CBS Sports college basketball analyst Jon Rothstein, Underwood joked that the school would “build a statue (of him) to describe the reaction if his best player during his three-year tenure with the Illini would return for his junior season.

Rothstein has already been a big advocate in the national media that the return of Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn to the Illinois roster for the 2020-21 season would make the Illini a national championship contender and a favorite to win the Big Ten Conference regular season title.

"The two years I've spent at Illinois, I wouldn't trade that for anything," Dosunmu wrote in a message to the fans. "You guys have helped me get where I am now."

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