Illinois basketball head coach Brad Underwood sat down in the early spring of 2018 to watch the Class 3A State Championship in Peoria where Morgan Park High School secured a massive win over Springfield Southeast.
Who was Underwood watching that day? He was eyeing two guards who’d eventually become two of the Illini’s top three recruits of all time in Ayo Dosunmu and Adam Miller.
Recruiting the City of Chicago’s brightest stars has and always will be the top priority of the Illini staff. Underwood’s ability to build an identity and appeal to prospects who take pride in their gritty on-court style surely was timely.
While Ayo and Adam are two years apart and largely differ in play style, their background with Morgan Park and the Mac Irvin Fire has infused them with a similar hard-nosed and rugged mentality on the court.
Ayo has become the head of the snake in the Illini’s ascension back to national recognition. In two seasons, Ayo has stacked up 940 points, 258 rebounds and 204 assists. He has started every game while healthy since arriving on campus and has played 1000 minutes in back to back seasons. In just two seasons, Ayo led the Illini to their highest final AP ranking since the 2005-2006 season.
Adam is ranked as the No. 17 best player in the class of 2020 by Front Office Gurus, was selected to the Jordan Brand Classic Game and was the 2020 Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois. He is only the third Illinois Mr. Basketball to join the Illini in the last decade and the first Mr. Basketball from a Chicago school to sign with the Illini since Jarrod Gee in 1994.
A peek into Adam’s scouting report; at 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Adam is a high-level combo guard who projects as a better fit off-ball. A deadly first step makes his jump shooting prowess from deep a two-edged sword for defenders.
Adam is a three-level, microwave scorer with a natural flair, a tight handle and a fearless attitude attacking the rim. Defensively, he can guard both guard spots because of his wiry, long arms and elite level lateral quickness.
Improving his playmaking ability, as well as developing his frame, will be focal points throughout Adam’s Illini career. My long dating comparison for Adam has been Monta Ellis because of their quickness and versatile scoring capabilities.
Ayo is sure to garner a ton of attention and will be the first guy on the Illini scouting report game in and game out. His ability to distribute and make plays for others in a natural manner without turning the ball over was the major concern from scouts, so adding another scoring threat and able ball handler should go a long way.
Ayo’s ability to capitalize off the attention that is incoming when the ball is in his hands and grow as a heady playmaker for others will certainly infuse a fresh narrative to his NBA stock.
The decision for Ayo to come back to school for his junior campaign made some question what Adam would do, but I feel confident to say that the development of Adam is in a much better place because he will have Ayo consistently setting the table for him and taking some volume off his shoulders in year one.
In simple, Ayo and Adam are bound to elevate when on the court with each other this season.
Don’t expect the next Ayo Dosunmu in Adam Miller, as their style of play is extremely different. But do expect a similar effect on winning basketball with the two. Two-way players drive a winning culture at all levels, and both Morgan Park alumni should exemplify that ideal under Brad Underwood.