“ Behind every mask, there is a face, and behind that a narrative. ”
Living through the global pandemic, masks are necessity for protection. Before 2020, masks were outstanding accessories at Halloween parties or masquerade balls. Superheroes in comedian books sport masks to conceal their identity from the general public .
In basketball, wearing a dissemble prevents far facial injuries. For Ayo Dosunmu, a black mask increased his influential persona in college basketball.
The Illinois Fighting Illini junior received a facial wound at the end of February after taking a intemperate cruddy from Michigan State Spartans freshman Mady Sissoko. Dosunmu returned for Illinois ’ season stopping point against the Ohio State Buckeyes wearing the black facial gear .
The injury, the mask, the new appearance didn ’ t handicap Dosunmu ’ mho stellar play on the court. In a contested game where the Illini defeated the Buckeyes 73-68, Dosunmu played 36 minutes, putting up 19 points. With the game tied at 68, the mask guard drive to the rim with ferocity, forcing the and-1 to give Illinois the enterprise basket .
Fast-forward to the Big Ten backing game, with Illinois and Ohio State squaring off once again, and Dosunmu iced the contest for the Illini. He converted two absolve throws in the final seconds, region of his 16 points, paving the way for Illinois ’ 91-88 Big Ten championship victory .
Ayo Dosunmu and his Illinois teammates won the Big Ten backing nowadays.
After the game, Dosunmu honored his darling actor of all prison term.
( 📸 : @ AyoDos_11 ) pic.twitter.com/hd6vxDionw— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) March 15, 2021
Dosunmu calls himself the “ Masked Mamba, ” a fun on “ The Black Mamba, ” the dub his idol Kobe Bryant created for himself. With his newly facial gearing, he channels Bryant ’ s competitive spirit. But Dosunmu doesn ’ t need a mask to prove his worth. He is a give athlete looking to bring a national backing to a city and department of state with historic ties to basketball .
“ It ’ s hard to find anybody that works harder than him, ” said Illinois head coach Brad Underwood. “ When the game is on the trace, he goes and makes every play. All of a sudden you look and he ’ mho got 19. ”
‘I say what I mean and do what I say’
drive around metropolitan Chicago and it ’ s impossible not to see public basketball courts filled with players. The city boasts more than 150 courts in its neighborhoods, giving kids a prospect to hoop with their friends, dreaming of progressing up the basketball ranks .
As the metro zooms along the track, one-on-one battles take place at Clybourn ( Archibald ) Park. Or drive to Foster Avenue Beach Court, where larger pickup games take position, against the backdrop of Lake Michigan and Chicago ’ s city skyline. basketball is forever entrenched in the blink of an eye of Chicago ’ randomness vibrant history and culture .
Quamdeen “ Ayo ” Dosunmu was born in Chicago, two years removed from Michael Jordan ’ south sixth and final NBA championship with the Bulls. Thanks to the Bulls ’ dynasty in the 1990s, basketball ’ second popularity increased across the city, permeating Chicago ’ second colleges and high schools .
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Dosunmu entered this global, in the Windy City, at a perfective time. He is a descendant of the Yoruba people and his parents, Quam and Jamarra, immigrated to Chicago from Nigeria, seeking a better liveliness for their family .
In the Yoruba language, the word “ Ayo ” means huge rejoice ( pronounce “ aa-y-o ” ). His parents ’ name for their son was prophetic, given his joy and enthusiasm on the motor hotel .
For Dosunmu, family is central to his success. No speculate, no extenuating circumstance prevents Quam, Jamarra and siblings Joselynn, Khadijat and Kube from attending his games .
syndicate beloved makes up the fabric of the Yoruba culture. Dosunmu embraces his family ’ second support, which fuels his desire to play professional basketball .
“ They ’ ve been with me through thick and thin, through the arduous times to the best times, ” Dosunmu said. “ They push me each and every day to be the best actor I can be, on and off the court. Their support on me decidedly has helped me be the player I am. ”
“ The family is all in, ” Underwood said. “ He ’ sulfur very committed to becoming the best player he can be. His family is very supportive and they do it in a positive and reinforce way. ”
Dosunmu made his way up through the ranks in Chicago high school basketball, starting at Westinghouse College Prep. He attracted care when he put up 40 points against Crane High School his freshman year .
When Dosunmu transferred to Morgan Park High School, his condition as a top enroll candidate soared. The Mustangs basketball team is a model for achiever in Chicago : nine straight regional championships ( 2011-19 ), three-time public league champions and winners of the IHSA championship five times .
The first thing I said to him was, ‘ Do you want to be well or do you want to be big ? ’ Ayo said, ‘ I want to be bang-up. ’ ” Coach Nick Irvin
Nick Irvin, who coached Dosunmu at Morgan Park, remembers the energy and swagger the child brought to the team .
“ He wanted to be a part of something limited, ” Irvin said. “ He wanted to be a region of winning a express championship. The first thing I said to him was, ‘ Do you want to be good or do you want to be great ? ’ Ayo said, ‘ I want to be great. ’ ”
Irvin said that for Dosunmu to be great, he needed to put in the work and be prepared for the sturdy times. This resulted in Dosunmu spend countless hours in the Morgan Park gymnasium, and he not only became an elect scorer, but besides a ruffianly defender against the best players .
Irvin remembers Dosunmu in his junior year when he led the Morgan Park Mustangs to the class 3A state championship. But in the semifinals, Dosunmu suffered an ankle injury, knocking him out of the championship game.
Despite not playing, Dosunmu never lost faith that he ’ five hundred get his team back to this point .
“ He said, ‘ I ’ meter going to get us back down and win it again, ’ ” Irvin remembered. “ I said, ‘ Man, it ’ s a big state. ’ He said, ‘ I say what I mean and do what I say. ’ ”
Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu (center) celebrates after being named tournament MVP after defeating Ohio State in overtime in an NCAA college basketball championship game at the Big Ten Conference tournament on March 14 in Indianapolis. Michael Conroy/AP Photo The following season, in Dosunmu ’ sulfur senior year, the Mustangs became state champions once again. Dosunmu put up 28 points, an IHSA championship game phonograph record, a testament to his ability to focus the adversity of the former year into coming back a better player .
“ I constantly gave him this attend, ” Irvin said. “ Come on, man, it ’ s go time. And Ayo said, ‘ Let ’ s go acquire it. ’ He put on an exhibition that will stick with me for the rest of my life. ”
Dosunmu ’ s senior-year operation at Morgan Park earned him trips to compete in the Jordan Brand Classic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and the Iverson Roundball Classic All-American Game in Philadelphia. Playing among the best high school prospects in the state, Dosunmu wasn ’ triiodothyronine fazed by the spotlight. He thrived in it, earning consensus first-team all-state selection from the major national and Chicago newspapers .
Playing in these showcases allowed Dosunmu to prove again why Chicago is still a hotbed of promising young talent .
“ Everybody wants to be a part of winners, not losers, ” Irvin said. “ Ayo is a phenomenal basketball musician. If he wants to be mentioned with Michael Jordan and all the big ones, you got to do great things. And that ’ s what he ’ second doing right now. ”
An impact player from the start
Dosunmu elected to stay conclude to home, playing for the University of Illinois. He entered when the program was looking to return to its winning ways of the 2000s, when the Illini made nine NCAA tournament appearances, including the 2005 national championship game against North Carolina .
In his freshman year with Illinois, Dosunmu made an contiguous impingement, averaging 13.8 points and 3.3 assists per bet on, earning All-Big Ten Freshman Team honors. But the Illini finished with a 12-21 criminal record, one of the worst in the program ’ randomness history .
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That summer, Underwood and his staff recruited concentrate Kofi Cockburn to bolster the team ’ s inside presence. Coupled with Dosunmu ’ s precaution play, Illinois rebounded with a 21-10 record. The Illini looked to qualify for its inaugural NCAA tournament appearance since 2013. however, the coronavirus pandemic shut down the college basketball season in 2020, ending Illinois ’ chances for a deeply tournament range .
initially declaring for the 2020 NBA draft, Dosunmu withdrew, electing to come back for his junior year to increase his market value. The decision paid off ; Dosunmu averaged 20.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game on 48.8 % shooting from the field. not entirely is Dosunmu a fecund shooter, but his court vision in transition is superb, creating offense for his teammates. He had 9 assists against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten tournament semifinals .
The Illini enroll the NCAA tournament as one of the four No. 1 seeds, winning 14 of their last 15 games. The team is showing its ability to play a complete trade name of basketball with Dosunmu as one of its leaders. not merely is the junior guard producing on the woo, but he is displaying effective leadership away from the game with his teammates .
“ He puts countless hours in the gymnasium. I try to mock that because I see what he ’ randomness doing in the NCAA, ” Illinois freshman point guard André Curbelo said. “ Putting all that knead in, it ’ sulfur decidedly going to pay off. Being a newcomer, you can learn indeed much from him. ”
aged Trent Frazier besides recognizes Dosunmu ’ south impact on the plan the last two years .
Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu is announced before the men’s Big Ten tournament game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on March 12 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire “ He ’ s not merely unstoppable on crime, but he ’ sulfur turning to that guy on defense, diving after unaffixed balls, rebounding enormously every game. He ’ s doing whatever it takes to help his team win, ” Frazier said .
As the college basketball earth descends on Indiana, Dosunmu will be one of the standout players to watch in the tournament. With his family cheering in the stands, Dosunmu looks to play with pride for Chicago and Illinois, both of which have given the young prospect a casual to play the fun he loves .
“ This is everything that I wish for, ” Dosunmu said. “ To go out there and try to win a national championship, being from Chicago, it ’ s an unreal feel. I try to focus on the moment and embrace it. I ’ molarity going to look back and say this was a memorable temper. I want to end it out on a bang. ”
As the Masked Mamba dons his black mask ahead of Friday ’ s opening-round game against Drexel, the big phase won ’ t be excessively uncomfortable for him .
As Coach Underwood says, “ That ’ s what he ’ randomness built for. ”
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Lukas Weese is a multiplatform sports journalist based in Toronto, Canada. Passionate about sports and storytelling, Lukas has bylines in USA Today, Toronto Star, Complex, Yahoo Sports, Sportsnet, The Hockey News, GOLF Magazine and Raptors Republic .