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Dosunmu proving NBA GMs wrong with strong start
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PRINCE ON THE ILLINI

Dosunmu proving NBA GMs wrong with strong start

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“There's no way there are 37 players better than me.”

Former University of Illinois All-American guard Ayo Dosunmu, now a Chicago Bull, is proving that comment from the 2021 NBA Draft to be true as he is making his mark for the Chicago Bulls.

In Dosunmu's junior year of college, he was a first-team All-American. He won every award geared for point-guards, including the Bob Cousy Award.

When he first arrived at Illinois, it took Dosunmu several games to figure out he was not at Morgan Park High School anymore. The will to win and be that guy was in his blood, though. His freshman year, he turned the ball over and made several bad decisions as to when to shoot and when to pass.

In post-game news conferences, even as a freshman, he said many times, "I'll learn from my mistakes, go back watch film, talk to my coaches to get better."

At the end of his career at Illinois, there was never a better closer in all of college basketball. He hit game-winning shots against Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Northwestern, Nebraska and Iowa. Everyone in the gym knew who was taking that shot, but there was nothing the defenders could do but walk away in defeat.

During the 2021 NBA Draft, Dosunmu and all of Illini Nation watched him slip to the second round after players that did not play on winning teams, could not shoot or were not known as good defenders were drafted. They were younger and general managers saw the "upside" in those players, but not in Dosunmu.

The Chicago Bulls did; instantly Chicago woke up a dead fan base with not only the talent they were bringing in, but also a local star who came in with an edge to prove all those who passed on him that “you made a mistake.”

Whispers were mounting: Dosunmu is good, but the Bulls have too many guards, there is no spot for him, send him to the G-League.

All Dosunmu needed was a chance, just one shot to show coach Billy Donovan he belonged.

Not since the end of another Illini guard's career — former Olympian and All-Star Deron Williams — have I watched an NBA game.

Now that Dosunmu is in, I have watched every game, rooting for the underdog.

Monday night against the Boston Celtics, Dosunmu entered the game in the first quarter, which surprised everyone. Chicago was down by 19 points late in the third quarter when Donovan put Dosunmu back in and he helped erase that deficit. With 6:59 to go in the fourth, the Bulls were down 105-103; Dosunmu received a pass from starting center Nikola Vucevic for a corner 3 that hit nothing but the bottom of the net, forcing Boston to call a timeout. The Bulls went on to beat the Celtics 128-114.

“Don’t give credit to me," Dosunmu said. "Coach Underwood and the whole (Illini) coaching staff that was there with me. … When you’re there at the level we were playing at, you learn a lot of things. … A lot of the stuff that we did in training camp and a lot of the stuff that we do essentially translates faster because I was used to that at Illinois.”

“He's fearless. His makeup is special, the epitome of a Chicago kid,” Donovan said about his young guard, who finished the night with 14 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Those who know the make-up of Dosunmu will understand that this is only the start. He will learn every day, study game film and prove his naysayers wrong.

But for now, other GMs have to be thinking that they passed on the wrong kid.

Do not bet against Ayo Dosunmu.

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