A Look into Ayo Dosunmu’s Potential Fit on the Sixers

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 14 Big Ten Tournament – Ohio State v Illinois
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 14: Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu (11) cuts down the net after winning the men’s Big Ten tournament college basketball game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Illinois Fighting Illini on March 14, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Who is Ayo Dosunmu and what can he bring to the Sixers? Find out why he might be exactly what the team needs in their backcourt.

The Sixers currently hold the 28th, and 50th picks in the upcoming draft. While it seems likely the team may make an effort to move around, there will still be value on the board if they end up selecting a player with the 28th pick. One guy that could provide an immediate impact for the Sixers and holds enticing upside is Ayo Dosunmu.

Who Is Ayo?

Born in Chicago to Nigerian immigrant parents, Ayo Dosunmu has had a hard-nosed style of play that was built into his game from the start. He was a four-star recruit coming out of high school, and the 27th ranked prospect in the 2018 class per 247sports composite rankings.

The 6’5 combo guard elected to stay local and committed to the University of Illinois, where he has played for the past three seasons. Dosunmu was a starter for all three years and averaged 13.8 points, 4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 steals as a freshman.

The Chicago native helped the Illinois team build into the powerhouse that they became this season, and his stats grew to 20.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists as a junior. It is also worth noting that Dosunmu connected at a 39% rate on three-pointers this season, although he shot the fewest attempts of his collegiate career (2.9 attempts).

What Dosunmu Brings

Flashing an elite burst and mature feel for the game, Ayo Dosumnu is more NBA-ready than most players available in this portion of the draft. He teases three-level scoring potential and dynamic transition ability. At 6’5, Ayo has impressive lateral quickness and competitiveness that translates on the defensive end. He will likely fill the role of a combo guard in the pros but should be able to guard the wing position as well, due to his versatility and 6’9 wingspan.

Ayo is not afraid to take big shots and was one of Illinois’ go-to scorers down the stretch. His long, fearless strides help him to attack the basket, and his quickness allows him to turn the corner effectively. There is some improvement on his shot as he often looks stiff in the catch-and-shoot, but they seem to be fairly simple fixes, and his work ethic is worth betting on.

As a passer, Dosunmu is fairly elementary in his reads but showed signs of growth in his vision- especially this year. Ayo had 3.3 assists per game in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, but his number jumped to 5.5 assists this season. He is certainly a guy who scores to set up his passing, and this will likely never change, but he is effective in this nonetheless. It is unlikely that the Illinois guard will develop into a guy that can be the primary distributor, but he can pass well enough to be a secondary playmaker.

Limitations and Availability

The shooting concerns are overstated but could be a reason that Dosumnu slips in the draft. In his freshman season, Ayo shot 35.2% from beyond the arc on 4.4 attempts per game. This percentage slipped his sophomore year as he connected on just 29.6% of his three-pointers on 3.3 attempts per game. This past season the combo guard shot just 2.9 attempts from deep but hit on 39% of these attempts. Some of this growth is certainly a positive as he has shown improvements in shot selection, but he will need to be a threat from deep at the next level, and he doesn’t project to have immediate NBA range.

Dosunmu’s growth as a passer has been intriguing, but he has a tendency to get “tunnel vision” on his initial or expected read. This was often seen when trying to find the team’s other star, Kofi Cockburn, as Ayo attempted to fit the ball into windows that weren’t there. While Kofi was certainly deserving of getting these looks, and he will likely be a player talked about in next year’s draft after pulling his name and returning to college this year, these attempts attributed to Dosumna’s 3.3 turnovers per game.

The range that Ayo is expected to go in is fairly all over the place. Most expect him to be a late first-round pick, with some even expecting him to slip to the second. The 21-year old was once expected to be cemented as a lottery pick, but a disappointing tournament put a damper on these hopes. After having a 24-7 record and being looked at as one of the favorites heading into the NCAA tournament, Illinois was knocked out by an underrated Loyola Chicago team in the second round.

If he is on the board at pick 28, the Sixers would benefit greatly from adding Ayo Dosunmu. He would prove to be a dangerous backcourt partner alongside Tyrese Maxey or a potential replacement as a spark if the Kentucky product finds himself in a trade. While he is not as polished as these guys yet, the Nigerian guard has some touches of Ja Morant, De’Aaron Fox, and even Jrue Holiday in his game. It seems likely the Sixers are ushering in a new era in their backcourt, and Ayo Dosunmu is a great candidate to be at the forefront of this.