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Despite Projecting Ayo To 2nd Round, Sam Vecenie Thinks Dosunmu Should Return To Illini

The Athletic’s NBA draft analyst Sam Vecenie projected Ayo Dosunmu in the second round of 2020 draft but thinks the Illinois guard should return to Champaign for his junior season.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- In the mind of one NBA draft analyst, there are three concepts that remain true about Ayo Dosunmu.

He is likely to remain in the 2020 draft process once the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline of Aug. 3 passes. Dosunmu will likely be a second round pick for a team looking for an athletic, 6-foot-5 guard with scoring ability. He would be wise to return to the University of Illinois for his junior season of college basketball.

“Dosunmu has a very real chance to help himself next season by returning to Illinois and fixing his jump shot, given how good the Illini figure to be with his return,” Sam Vecenie writes in his latest mock draft analysis piece for The Athletic. “I really like the idea of Dosunmu, and he’s known to be a hard worker and strong character kid. I’m just not quite sure he’d be putting himself in the best position by declaring for this draft officially.”

In the sixth version of his mock draft piece for The Athletic, Vecenie projects Dosunmu to be taken in the second round, 50th overall in a 60-player draft, by the Indiana Pacers.

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.

“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.

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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.

Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, the 7-foot center, who just finished his first season of college basketball as the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year selection, both have yet to make their draft decisions official. However, Underwood confirmed last month Cockburn has returned to Champaign-Urbana after spending most of the spring in a COVID-19 stay-at-home order inside the Queens neighborhood of his hometown of New York.

Dosunmu has been showing videos of his workouts with his dad and personal trainer in his home city of Chicago while the rest of his teammates returned to the University of Illinois campus in June for voluntary summer workouts.

Underwood confirmed the news on Cockburn during a segment on a local ESPN radio show ‘The Drive with Lon Tay & Derek Piper’ but said the Jamaican-born post player was not ready to announce any future plans regarding his draft status.

“Kofi is going through the process of the draft, but he is in town and that’s for a lot of various reasons as we’ve had to deal with COVID,” Underwood said.