This is a getting-way-ahead-of-ourselves moment but Morgan Park’s Ayo Dosunmu is the frontrunner for every award next season. The Class of 2018 star is also the state’s best and only hope for representation in next year’s McDonald’s All-American game.
That’s no sure thing these days in Illinois, where the state has lacked a Burger Boy in three of the last six McDonald’s games played, including the past two years –– all played in Chicago, nonetheless.
Dosunmu, a teen born to play basketball as a point guard pushing close to 6-5, is the top player and prospect in Illinois and is ranked nationally among the top 30 players in the country.
Blessed with a unique set of physical tools for the position he plays, Dosunmu brings a high level of playmaking ability when you combine his buckets and dimes. As a result, he generates offense and stretches the boundaries of what you envision a typical high school point guard to be.
“When you talk about a kid being a ‘ballplayer,’ that’s what he is,” says Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin. “He’s a point guard with great size who sees the floor and makes plays off the dribble. He’s just one of those smooth, big point guards in the mold of a Jason Kidd or Gary Payton.”
Right now there really isn’t even an anti-Ayo case to be debated for the top spot in the class, though that’s due mostly to the lack of high-level talent in Illinois right now. Simeon’s Talent Horton-Tucker has established himself as the No. 2 prospect in the class and made a big push, but Dosunmu is still clearly the top player.
After suffering a season-ending injury in a Class 3A state semifinal in Peoria in March, Dosunmu has picked right back up on the club circuit. He’s averaged 22.7 points, 4 rebounds and 3.1 assists in Nike’s EYBL play, solidifying himself as the big name in Illinois high school basketball next year. But Dosunmu says he has no plans of becoming a prep basketball diva.
“It’s good to know and see,” says Dosunmu of carrying the torch of state’s best prospect, “but I just have to stay humble. But it is motivation for me. It’s motivation for me to put in the work because all of that comes with a target on your back.”
Fortunately, Dosunmu has a coach in Irvin who does all he can to take the pressure off his star players, whether it’s Wayne Blackshear, Marcus LoVett, Charlie Moore or a host of others who have thrived at Morgan park.
“I think playing at Morgan Park helps him with that outside pressure, because he doesn’t have to play with any pressure here,” says Irvin. “I do all the talking –– a lot of talking –– and I put the pressure on myself. The players just have to go play. At Morgan Park he can just be himself.”
A part of being himself is Dosunmu’s constant studying of the game. It’s this basketball work, he says, that people don’t know or appreciate.
“I don’t think people really know how much I study the game,” says Dosunmu. “I am a student of the game, always watching other players, picking apart the games of other players, whether it’s players in college or the NBA. I constantly look for things to add to my game, add to my arsenal. I see them, get in the gym and work on them.”
This is another reason why Irvin believes his star player will be just fine handling both the hype he has received and will continue to as he plays out his senior year next season. Irvin sees the demeanor and work ethic of Dosunmu on a daily basis.
“He has to just stay consistent with what he does, keep working hard and get better in each area of his game,” says Irvin. “But that shouldn’t be a problem because he loves the game and puts in the time.”
Even with the notoriety and billing as state’s top player, Dosunmu realizes there is work to be done, including the area that is certainly critiqued the most: Dosunmu’s jump-shot. He knows it’s a work in progress as he’s tinkered with his shot mechanics and battled consistency with it.
“I know I have to improve that part of my game,” Dosunmu says. “I started over from scratch a while back, so I need to get more reps, more shots up. I know that will only keep defenses even more off-balanced, make it even more difficult to guard me.”
Irvin says his job is to “coach Dosunmu hard and give him confidence.” That formula has worked over the past two seasons since Dosunmu transferred in after a monster freshman season at Westinghouse. Now he’s a coveted high-major prospect.
“I don’t have a top three, four or five schools,” Dosunmu says of his recruitment that will only intensify as the summer plays out. “I will get together with my family and my coaches and figure out when it will be best to cut my list down, but I’m wide open and going through the process.”
Dosunmu says the schools who have shown the most interest and “recruiting me the hardest” are Butler, Creighton, Illinois, Northwestern, North Carolina State and Xavier.
“I’m in no rush,” says Dosunmu, who has already made his fair share of unofficial visits.
Spoken like the top player in the class with a whole bunch of options ahead of him.
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