I am shocked that Ayo Dosunmu is coming back to Illinois Basketball for his junior season. It is a dream come true for Illini fans.
With Ayo back and Kofi Cockburn of Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolades coming back (hopefully… please…), plus two senior leaders in Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams, plus ready-to-break-out-of-his-sophomore-slump Giorgi Bezhanishvili, and two top-50 freshmen in Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo, aaaaaaaaand two transfers who sat out last season (Austin Hutcherson and Jacob Grandison) this team has more than Sweet Sixteen dreams or Elite Eight dreams or even Final Four dreams… this team wants to win a National Championship.
It’s what Ayo said he wants. “Since a kid, I’ve been working. My dream is to play in the NBA, but first I need that national championship,” Dosunmu said in a video announcing his return to the University of Illinois.
Making it to the Final Four is an incredible achievement and there are lots of teams pushing towards making the Tournament and going on a run. This upcoming college basketball season, Illinois has a real, legitimate shot at doing it.
If there’s a college basketball season.
Last season, COVID-19 derailed the team’s dream of just getting back to the NCAA Tournament. Even though the trajectory was going up, when the crisis hit everything stopped. It was a profound disappointment not to hear their name being called on Selection Sunday.
As a fan of Illinois athletics, I have an almost desperate need to see sports come back. Admittedly even more so this particular upcoming season because both the football and basketball programs are going to be good. Really good. Really, really good.
And then there’s this virus.
If everyone would just do their part and wear a mask, socially distance, and continue to wash their hands, this country would knock back the spread and maybe get to have bars and restaurants open safely. Maybe we’d get concerts and weddings back. Maybe we’d get all the sports back. Maybe we’d have a college football season and a college basketball season.
In the meantime, I’m going to bask in this wave of happiness and hopefulness I’m feeling. There happens to be an orange and blue hue to it.