Ayo Dosunmu Named Illini’s 2020 Male Athlete of the Year

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Ayo Dosunmu was named the best male athlete at the University of Illinois.

The Illini basketball player was officially named to the 2020 edition of the award given out by the school’s athletics department and named after former three-sport athlete Dwight Eddleman.

Dosunmu became the third Illini basketball player to win the award since Kendall Gill received the honor in 1990. Dosunmu is the first basketball player since Deron Williams in 2005 to win the award. 

Dosunmu was 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.

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

Dosunmu became the first Illini player to earn All-Big Ten first team honors since Demetri McCamey in 2010. With the leadership of the Chicago native guard, Illinois (21-10, 13-7) earned the double-bye in 2020 Big Ten Tournament (which was cancelled due to the coronavirus) for the first time in program history and if not for the COVID-19 epidemic would’ve likely earned a bid in the 2020 NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.

“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,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said via a statement after Dosunmu declared for the draft.

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.

Dosunmu was a second team pick by the Big Ten coaches and was replaced on the first-team list by Maryland point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. The media and coaches had four consensus first-team selections: Iowa's Luka Garza, who was also named the league’s player of the year, along with Maryland sophomore Jalen Smith, Michigan State senior Cassius Winston and Penn State forward Lamar Stevens.

Dosunmu hit game-winning or game-clinching shots in road wins at Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State while also dazzling the home crowd in late-game moments in wins against Indiana and Iowa as well. 

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