Ayo Dosunmu returns to Illinois for sophomore season

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 13: Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) goes up for a shot against Northwestern Wildcats center Dererk Pardon (5) during a Big Ten Tournament game between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Illinois Fighting Illini on March 13, 2019, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — While it was another season without an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, there was some hope that Illini basketball was headed in the right direction.

Brad Underwood’s team shook off a 1-7 start to Big Ten play by winning four straight games in the conference, including wins over two ranked teams. Illini finished 12-21 — far from an impressive record — but play from some of the younger players offered some hope.

That includes former Morgan Park High School star Ayo Dosunmu, who made an immediate impact on Brad Underwood’s team. But Dosunmu’s performance made some wonder whether the guard would try to play professionally after just one season in Champaign.

A little over a month after Illinois’ season came to an end, Dosunmu made it clear he has more left to do before trading in the orange and blue.

Dosunmu announced on Twitter that he will return to the Illini for his sophomore season, ultimately deciding against entering the NBA Draft even with the option of not signing an agent on the table.

His mantra for his return to the program: unfinished business.

“I stayed home to help Coach Underwood turn the Illinois program around,” Dosunmu said in the video. “We beat some ranked teams this season but we didn’t dance, and Illinois needs to dance.”

“We will be better,” he said. “I will be better, and that starts now.”

Dosunmu was named to the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team and was an overall All-Big Ten honorable mention, becoming the first true freshman in Illini history to lead the team in scoring (13.8 points). He came through in a pair of major upsets for Illinois, scoring a game-high 20 points in a win over No. 13 Maryland on Jan. 25, then scoring a game-high 24 in a win over No. 9 Michigan State on Feb. 5.

These performances were part of a memorable season for the Chicago native, who’ll help the Illini try to make the “Big Dance” for the first time since the 2012-2013 next season.

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