Dosunmu shows off vertical, enjoys in-person interviews at NBA Combine


Photo Courtesy of Ayo Dosunmu's Instagram

Former Illinois basketball player Ayo Dosunmu stands on the basketball court watching the plays. Ayo met with NBA team during the NBA Draft Combine.

By Brandon Simberg, Staff Writer

When Ayo Dosunmu returned to Chicago for the 2021 NBA Draft Combine, he didn’t need to do anything. 

While a majority of the prospects in attendance took part in the four days of athletic testing, shooting drills and eventually five-on-five scrimmaging, Dosunmu didn’t. In the modern NBA Combine, prospects projected to go in the first round of the NBA Draft, or heck, even close enough to the first round, pull out of any drills or competition. Dosunmu’s stock is secure enough that he didn’t need to do any of those things.

So it was a bit of a surprise when Dosunmu emerged from the tunnel at Wintrust Arena on Wednesday night and began stretching. Dosunmu is not seen as a plus leaper, so he wanted to change that perception. 

After completing the standing vertical jump, Dosunmu lined up for the max vertical jump. He took a few gather steps in before leaping off his left leg, his right leg gliding, as his right hand touched the ladders on the machine. Dosunmu measured a 39-inch vertical, a positive step in the right direction for him. But he wasn’t satisfied. 

“I told myself I wanted a 40,” Dosunmu said. “That’s what I’ve been working on. I wanted a 40-inch vertical. It was good; 39 is an improvement. The last time I did it, I was around 35, 36.”

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Dosunmu has spent the offseason working out in Miami, where he and his fellow Excel Sports clients are doing individual and group workouts. Dosunmu will start team workouts in the upcoming weeks. He interviewed with nearly 20 teams in Chicago this past week, including his hometown Chicago Bulls on Friday.

Those interviews themselves are drastically different than they were a year ago when Dosunmu was testing the NBA Draft waters. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic forced all meetings to be over Zoom, hurting Dosunmu, who excels at face-to-face conversations. Dosunmu had to sell himself more last year, but now, the reigning Bob Cousy Award winner, has an incredibly impressive statistical season to bank on.

“Being able to talk to people in person and make eye contact in person and feel the room, feel how the vibe is in the room, that’s something you have to be there to understand it,” Dosunmu said.

The biggest thing Dosunmu wants to show teams is that he still has room to grow, wanting to shed the narrative that 21-year-old prospects don’t have as much room to improve. While his jump shot took a leap last season, he knows he can get better in that area.

“Me, being 21 years old — people still ask questions like can I come and produce right away,” Dosunmu said. “That’s a misperception because I proved it last year. My 3-point percentage going from 29 to 39%, my assist-to-turnover ratio being better than last year. … Every category increasing, but you know I still hear some certain questions.”

Despite questions Dosunmu may hear, the general sense around the league is that his draft range starts in the late-teens and ends around No. 35, with the expectation that he goes somewhere in the middle. If he goes toward the end of the first round, that would place him on a contending team, which is something he would relish. Whichever team drafts Dosunmu will be getting one of the more decorated college guards in the class — and someone who can jump a little bit higher than initially anticipated.



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