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Illinois star Ayo Dosunmu announces he will return for his junior season: 'First I need that national championship'

Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Basketball

CHICAGO -- Illinois basketball's best player will be back.

In an unexpected move, Ayo Dosunmu announced Friday night that he's withdrawing from the NBA draft and will return to Champaign for his junior season.

Dosunmu's family had said after the season ended abruptly in March because of the coronavirus pandemic that he was nearly certain he would remain in the draft. His dad said Dosunmu had little left to prove at the college level after a successful sophomore season.

In a 1 1/2 minute video on Twitter posted Friday evening, Dosunmu said he would be back for "Year 3? despite his dream of playing in the NBA.

"First I need that national championship," he said at the end of the dramatic video.

The Illini finished just one game out of first place in the Big Ten, shy of a goal Dosunmu had set. The media named him first-team All-Conference.

 

Averaging 16.6 points and shooting 48.4%, the 6-foot-5 guard shined throughout the season with clutch performances. After finishing 12-21 overall and 7-13 in the Big Ten in 2018-19, the Illini went 21-10 overall with a 13-7 conference mark.

He reportedly was invited to the NBA draft combine. Underclassmen had until Monday to withdraw their names.

Illinois is waiting to see if big man Kofi Cockburn also will withdraw from the draft. He is not listed on most mock draft boards.

Dosunmu was not a sure-shot draftee either, but he had said he thought he would prove himself in eventual workouts for teams.

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