Illinois Basketball: Ayo Dosunmu invited to NBA Combine, seals Illini legacy

Well, Illinois basketball fans, we may have received the answer for one of the big offseason questions on Sunday.

In a post on his Twitter account, Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu posted the word “Invite” and followed it up with a checkmark and the hashtag JL4L, which means Jet Life for Life. What does the word Invite mean? That means Ayo has been invited to the NBA Combine.

As of right now, the NBA Combine doesn’t have a date or location set, but it will be after the withdraw deadline for players who have declared for the NBA Draft, which is August 3. That means, logically speaking, Ayo is keeping his name in the mix and will not pull out of the draft. That means, we have watched Ayo play his last game for the Orange and Blue.

If this is indeed the case and Ayo doesn’t come back to Champaign, how will the guard be remembered?

Let’s think back to a few years ago before Ayo was committed to Illinois. We went four-straight years of no NCAA tournament with John Groce. Brad Underwood took over and had 14 wins in his first season with the program. The outlook of Illinois basketball was bleak, to put it nicely.

But the commitment of Ayo didn’t just send shockwaves through the basketball world. It reenergized a fanbase that was desperate for a winner. His commitment gave Illinois fans the hope we were all yearning for.

Yes, year one with Ayo was ugly as the Illini only won 12 games. But the competitiveness was back with the program and you could see it with wins over No. 13 Maryland and No. 9 Michigan State. We were on the cusp of something great, and it all started and ended with Ayo.

And then year two happened. Ayo’s sophomore season was the best campaign we have seen in Champaign in years. Illinois reached as high as No. 19 in the rankings and had wins over No. 5 Michigan, No. 9 Penn State and No. 18 Iowa. This was an NCAA tournament team as well.

The magical season was ended short because of a worldwide pandemic. That was literally the only thing that could stop Ayo from becoming a legend in the postseason. But I won’t let the pandemic or the shortened season tarnish his great career with the Illini.

Ayo finished his Illinois career averaging 15.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He was a leader on the court with his play and ability, but he was also a leader off the court with how he conducted himself.

If you are an NBA general manager and skip over Ayo, you are foolish. With Ayo, you are getting the complete package. He will give you the numbers on the court, he will be great for the locker room and you don’t have to worry about him off the court. He might even drop a game-winner right in the eye of his defender.

Next: Grading the projected Illini lineup for 2020-21

I believe the legacy of Ayo in the college game is finalized. I think we have seen the last of him in an Illinois jersey. This kid is one of the best to ever do it in Champaign and nothing less. He is a superstar in every form and fashion.

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