Dosunmu, Cockburn returning makes Illinois a top ten team

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Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu announced on Friday night that he will be withdrawing from the 2020 NBA Draft to return to Champaign for his junior season.

“Since a kid, I’ve been working. My dream is to play in the NBA,” Dosunmu said in a video he posted to twitter. “But first, I need that national championship. Year three.”

On Saturday, star center Kofi Cockburn announced that he will be returning to school as well. He averaged 13.3 points and 8.6 boards as a freshman.

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Dosunmu was a second-team all-Big Ten performer as a sophomore, averaging 16.6 points and 3.3 assists while developing a reputation as one of the best big-shot makers in the sport. His decision to return to school is a bit of a surprise. While he was far from a lock to be drafted, he was expected to keep his name in the draft and make a run at the professional ranks.

Dosunmu will enter the season as an All-American and will be in the mix for Big Ten Player of the Year as well, meaning that Illinois is definitively and unquestionably the biggest winner of the early entry period, regardless of who else makes the decision to return to school. With these two in the fold, Illinois is ranked No. 10 in the NBC Sports preseason top 25. Given that Dosunmu was not expected to return to school, I did not even consider the Illini for the top 25 until his announcement. The rest of the players on the fence — Luka Garza, Xavier Tillman, Corey Kispert, etc. — will make top 25 teams better.

Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn made the Illinois program relevant.

And college basketball is better when Illinois is good.