Underwood: Illinois Will Never Give Ayo Dosunmu An Ultimatum Timeline

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Ayo Dosunmu isn’t and will not ever be on a decision deadline or timetable given to him by anybody at the University of Illinois, according to Illini basketball coach Brad Underwood.

Underwood, who just completed his third season at Illinois, made it clear in his 47-minute media teleconference Tuesday, that the decision on professional basketball by his most high-profile player since arriving in Champaign-Urbana will not be via an ultimatum to Dosunmu.

“It’s not about pressuring anybody," Underwood said. "It’s always about trying to be in a position of support and health. I would never put an athlete in a situation (like that). They’ve always got a home. I want our guys to always know that. We’ll deal with that.”

Before concerns over the COVID-19 world health epidemic, Dosunmu became 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 (16.6 points per game and in assists at 3.3 per game) was 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 was poised to enter the 2020 Big Ten Conference tournament with the double-bye for the first time in program history and almost certainly on its way to earning a bid in the upcoming NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.

Without having a postseason opportunity, Dosunmu is now faced with a decision whether to enter a NBA draft process with the prospect of not understanding when or if a prospects combine, pre-draft workouts or even a draft takes place this summer.

“There’s a lot of factors that are so unknown,” Underwood said Friday. “Not knowing if there’s going to be an NBA season. Not knowing what the draft process even is. That trickles down into what agents are doing and how they’re going about their business. Yet, unless you’re a pretty surefire top-10 pick, it gets pretty challenging to know what even what even that process is. You got to think at this point you don’t know what a summer league looks like, what a draft combine would look like, even what the draft looks like or when that would be.”

A tweet from the Illini basketball account, on what their group video conferences on Zoom looks like, confirmed Dosunmu is still participating in team activities along with finishing spring semester classes in an online setting.

Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu celebrates with head coach Brad Underwood after a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at State Farm Center. This 78-76 win turned out to be the final game of Illinois' 2019-20 season.Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

According to a normal offseason schedule, basketball players have until April 26 to declare for a draft that is supposed to take place June 25 but the coronavirus world health epidemic could likely push all these dates back. If the NCAA’s decision-making process calendar stays the same, a player must withdraw from the draft process by June 3.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into that,” Underwood said. “Ayo’s in a position to examine all those things and talk with his people. They have done the evaluation process. That’s still out there for all the athletes to go through. Ayo’s in that process. We’ll see. But you have so many unknowns.”

With Illinois already losing two key perimeter players from this past season’s team (Andres Feliz and Alan Griffin), the Illini are involved in the transfer market but Underwood stressed Tuesday his program isn’t in a desperate situation to get information out of Dosunmu on his decision.

“Our world today is such that there’s going to be, what, a thousand on the portal last year? There’s going to be opportunities to be there, and we can be very, very selective,” Underwood said. “I like the position we’re in.”