What a week it's been for the Bulls rookie Ayo Dosunmu. First he has his number lifted to the rafters by the Illinois Fighting Illini then the following night puts up a career high game against the Wizards. The 38th pick in the 2021 draft is fast proving the other 29 NBA teams were wrong to have passed over him and letting him fall so low. He admitted after the draft he felt he was a 1st round pick and he was going to prove it and his fearless approach to the game has made him a firm fan favourite. However, I think at this point the shock of how the Chicago native has started his career has turned into a nightly expectation from Bulls fans. A lot expected to see him drop to the G League to carry on his development but after he got a chance in the season opener against the Detroit Pistons, playing 11 minutes and putting up 7 points in the process, he's only gotten better.
Personally I feel I called it back in the Summer League when I put a video together with the soundtrack "Remember My Name". I thought he had a bright future but didn't expect him to be a key player for the Bulls already. On Thursday night his alma mater Illinois had a ceremony for him at half time in a game against Maryland which they won 76-64. They raised his #11 to the rafters witnessed by Bulls teammate DeMar DeRozan who travelled to Champaign with Ayo for the ceremony. "I was a fan of his before we were even teammates, while he was here [in Champaign], what they did last year and the year before that,” DeRozan told a reporter in attendance Thursday. “So for him to be my teammate, me understanding the importance of getting your jersey retired, it was definitely an honor for me to be here and see him make that happen.” In his 3 years at Illinois he played 90 games averaging 16.7pts 4.8 rebs 3.9 assts.
(Courtesy of UK Chicago Bulls Fan Group on FB)
Onto Friday night against the Wizards and Ayo had his career night to date in the NBA, coming of the bench and forming a formidable duo with Coby White. His stat line for the night was 18 pts , 5 reb, 4 asts , and 3 Stls. His performance was highlighted by Wizards star Bradley Beal who said “I’m a fan of his. I hope he does well.” Ayo Dosunmu also said Bradley Beal gave him some advice during the game after getting two traveling calls from the refs. Dosunmu then used the move and said Beal told him, "I didn't say use it on me. I said use it in the future." So Ayo is now getting recognition from stars around the league.
He was gaining a reputation after a solid performance in a win over the Nets, started his 1st game against the Nuggets and had started 2 in a row before entering protocols. Since returning from protocols he's regained his form and was called in by coach Donovan to slow down Hawks star Trae Young. He did just that and once again Bulls fans are calling him Rookie of the Year. Obviously that's a bit unrealistic due to it being a stats based award, but getting himself that sort of recognition shows how far he's come already and at minimum he'll be looking at a spot on the NBA All Rookie team for this year.
To date, his stats for the season are 6.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.3 apg and while they don't stand out in anyway, you just have to watch him to see what he can do. As a rookie he's been asked to guard some of the best guards in the league and he does it with fearlessness while learning all at the same time. We've already seen what DeRozan has said about him and Zach LaVine has also chimed in about the rookie, "He (Dosunmu) doesn't have any fear at all, offensively or defensively. He asks a whole bunch of questions. He probably asks more questions than any rookie I've been around, on- and off-the-court subjects. So he wants to learn." Coach Billy Donovan
“He has played well for us off the bench, I think he has earned it. He has played really well and has done a really, really good job for us. He continues to grow and get better. I got confidence in him.” So it's not just the fans who love Ayo, his teammates and coach do too.
The future is certainly bright with Ayo and Bulls fans will be hoping he pulls on the #12 jersey for years to come. Personally for me over here in the UK, as I've mentioned before, I called it in the Summer League. I love watching him play and look forward to his spark off the bench. He seems to improve every game and has given us so many highlights already and I think the league's guards need to worry about matching up against him, as he can make them look pretty average. He's already got his own calls from Stacey King: "Ayo Dos Tres" every time he drops a 3, and Ayo Silver when he has a highlight play. For me, that's a sign of respect from the legend Stacey and certainly leads to a whole line of potential merch.
I'd like to wish Ayo luck for the rest of his career (hopefully all with the Bulls) and say I look forward to watching him become the star he has the potential to be.
-Matt H (Twitter:@matthearn1)