Pat Forde, writing in Sports Illustrated, has an in-depth profile on Ayo Dosunmu that gets to the core of who he is and how his family and friends have shaped him.
He can be heard chattering in the gym at just about any hour—early, late, whenever. The pandemic might have curtailed the social life of most Illinois students, but it’s pretty much business as usual for Ayo. “He doesn’t party. He doesn’t hang out. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t go to the bars,” Chin says. “He’s never been to Kam’s [the venerable Champaign bar that labels itself ‘Home of the Drinking Illini’]. He’s all the way in this deal.”
“It starts with not being afraid to fail, not being afraid of the moment,” Ayo says. “I want to take on that challenge. I loved Kobe Bryant’s mentality. He was never afraid of failure. He had the guts to take those shots.”
They are the moments every player relishes in pretend settings—in the backyard, in the practice gym. Not everyone has that same eagerness in reality when a game is on the line and the world is watching. Ayo does.
“His belief in himself is a testament to his work,” said Illinois strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher. “That leads to confidence in those moments.”
As startling as the individual plays have been—back-to-back threes to break open a tie game in an upset of Michigan State as a freshman, the buzzer-beater against Michigan as a sophomore, the Northwestern super dagger this week—the totality does not surprise the architect or his father. This was the plan all along.
“This is what he was built for,” Quam says. “This is all the stuff we envisioned. We don’t duck. We don’t hide from anything.”
He’s a special player.