‘He’s a hard worker’: Ayo on newest Morgan Park to Illini star Adam Miller

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- When asked to give a description of the next generation of talent coming from Morgan Park High School to Illinois, Ayo Dosunmu knew exactly what to say about Adam Miller.

“I think the best compliment you can give a person is that they’re a hard worker,” Dosunmu said. “(Miller) is a hard worker and Illinois fans when he comes upon a problem, he’s going to do everything he can to work his way out of it.”

Dosunmu should know better than most what Miller looks like as they both teamed up as an impressive one-two guard punch to lead Morgan Park to the 2018 Class 3A IHSA state championship. Dosunmu was named a first-team IHSA all-state performer as a senior, while Miller received third-team honors as a sophomore. In the championship final, with Illinois head coach Brad Underwood in the stands at the Peoria Civic Center, Dosunmu ended his high school career with a team-high 28 points and Miller added 11 points in a 71-56 victory over Springfield Southeast High. It’s safe to assume the Illini coach agrees with Dosunmu’s assessment of Miller’s best quality.

"Adam made a memorable impact on me the very first time I saw him as a sophomore," Underwood said in an official statement after he signed his National Letter-of-Intent with Illinois on April 22. "He did an individual workout right after a team workout at his high school, and I was so impressed by his work ethic and his attention to detail with fundamentals. He went on to win a state championship with Morgan Park that year, dominating on the defensive end in the title game.”

By refusing to sign with an agent, Dosunmu has left a shred of hope that he’ll return to the Illini for his junior season and, once again, team with Miller for one more season. A source close to the Illini basketball program told Illini Now/Sports Illustrated that Illinois basketball fans should expect Dosunmu to take his decision all the way to the NCAA-mandated Aug. 3 deadline to withdraw from draft consideration.

Miller was primarily recruited by assistant coach Ronald “Chin” Coleman, a Chicago native who previously served as head coach of the Mac Irvin Fire, one of the top AAU programs in the country, from 2005-11 before being the associate head coach at Whitney Young High School and serving two years as an assistant coach at Illinois-Chicago under coach Steve McClain.

“He’s a Morgan Park guy so he comes with that background of (former Morgan Park head coach, current Western Illinois assistant coach) Nick Irvin and the kind of coaching he gives to his players,” Dosunmu said. “I consider him an Hall of Fame coach to me and Adam is a player that will put the work in to be the best he can be.”

Miller became the first Illinois Mr. Basketball selection to sign with Illinois since Mark Smith did so in 2017 but Smith would transfer to Missouri after his first and only season with the Illini program. Miller becomes just the third selection this decade to sign with Illinois joining Smith and Jereme Richmond in 2010, who signed with Bruce Weber’s Illini program. Miller is the first Mr. Basketball from a Chicago high school to sign with Illinois since Jarrod Gee in 1994.

"I feel like it's the best setup for me," Miller said during his signing ceremony at his home via Instagram Live. "It's my best option. If I'm going to continue to do my dream and make it to the NBA, why not do it at home?"

Miller will likely be paired immediately with incoming four-star freshman product Andre Curbelo as the next generation of guards that hope to transform Illinois basketball into a reemerging power in the Big Ten Conference. Curbelo, a native of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, is known for his mature passing game from the point guard position after starring for Puerto Rico in the FIBA U17 and U19 World Cups competitions.

“That’s going to be fun to watch," Underwood said in a Zoom meeting with local media. "You’re talking about two guys who have the ability to make others around them really, really good. They’re both very good passers; they’re both capable scorers at a high level. Adam’s got tremendous range. He’s a tremendous shooter and can play on the ball as well. There’s a lot of excitement from my standpoint at the thought of those two developing an unbelievable chemistry with each other in the backcourt."