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Ayo Dosunmu

Illinois freshman Ayo Dosunmu has announced he will not enter the NBA draft and will instead return to Illinois for his sophomore season.

CHICAGO — Before Ayo Dosunmu arrived in Champaign last year, he and his family wrote his goals on an index card, sealed it in an envelope and locked it in his mom's safe deposit box.

At the end of his freshman season at Illinois, he went home to Chicago, sat with his family and unsealed the envelope.

It was "simple," said Dosunmu's father, Quam. "I opened the envelope and repeated the goals that had been set. Those numbers, it didn't match. We knew we had unfinished business. He knew that. I knew that."

So to the surprise of many, Dosunmu announced April 18 he had decided against entering the NBA draft and would return to Illinois for his sophomore season. He had the option to work out and get feedback from scouts and general managers and withdraw his name by May 29. But the Dosunmu family said they already know what he needs to work on.

"It goes back to playing poker," Quam said. "You don't show your hand until you show your hand to win. We knew what we needed to do."

Dosunmu said he truly didn't weigh his options until the season concluded.

"When time came (to decide), I knew it had to be made," he said. "This was the best decision for me. I still have a lot to accomplish. We had information on what it takes at the next level. That wasn't the problem. If I really wanted to turn pro, I could have. I wanted to maximize my talents and abilities. This offseason is to do that."

Illinois fans rejoiced.

Dosunmu said he doesn't check his social media accounts often, but if he did, he would have seen an outpouring of relief and revelry in reaction to his quick decision. Around campus, he said, "the vibes have been good vibes. People want to stop to take pictures. It makes my day."

After leading Illinois in points and assists and being named to the Big Ten all-freshman team, Dosunmu has become a fan favorite. The Morgan Park alumnus anticipates a warm welcome when he throws out the first pitch at Thursday's White Sox game -- the baseball team he grew up rooting for.

He attended the 2009 game in which Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game.

"It's a dream come true," Dosunmu said. "Just knowing I have that opportunity is great."

Asked if he'll toss it over the plate, he laughed and said: "I'm a pitcher. You'll see."

Illinois fans are especially eager to see his future.

Dosunmu will spend this offseason "getting bigger, better, stronger," he said. The previous two years in high school, he spent the offseason recovering from injuries. This year, he said he can concentrate on building strength.

He and his dad said their sights are set on helping Illinois break a six-year NCAA Tournament drought and developing Ayo's body and game for a long NBA career.

"It's all about longevity and durability," Quam said. "When we go (to the NBA), we're looking to be there 12 to 15 years, by the grace of God. When you go in the league, you're playing with grown men. You have to have a grown-man body and a grown-man mentality."

Dosunmu said he's eager to attack his sophomore season.

He and his family met again after his freshman season. Together, they wrote down new goals on an index card and locked it away again. They include winning the Big Ten Tournament and making the NCAA Tournament.

What else?

"Top secret," Dosunmu said.

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