CHAMPAIGN — The comparisons between Ayo Dosunmu and Adam Miller are inevitable.
Both are dynamic, athletic guards. Both starred — and won — at Morgan Park, even teaming up for a Class 3A state championship in 2018 when Dosunmu was a senior and Miller a sophomore. Both also chose Illinois, with Dosunmu paving the way in the 2018 class for Miller to do the same two years later.
Illinois men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood understands that the comparisons between Dosunmu and Miller will come. Even if he doesn’t view the pair that way.
Enough differences exist, though, to draw clear lines between Dosunmu and Miller. Start with their physical makeup. Dosunmu, at 6-foot-5, has a couple inches on the 6-3 Miller, but the latter will arrive on campus at 180 pounds — just five pounds shy of where the all long and legs Dosunmu did as a freshman before his time with strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher.
“Adam, physically, he’s 6-4 and strong,” Underwood said, giving Miller an extra inch height-wise. “He’s got great legs and a great base.”
Dosunmu and Miller are also different on the basketball court. Their respective styles have taken them different directions.
Dosunmu is a demon in transition and developed a potent mid-range game during the 2019-20 season. Miller can stretch the floor.
“Ayo was so electric,” Underwood said. “I’ve got to remember back to Ayo as a freshman to make those same (comparisons). We remember Ayo here at the end of his sophomore year.
“Adam’s an elite shooter, and yet he’s got enough game that he’s a really good finisher with that athleticism and that contact. I think he’s a guy that can get to the foul line a ton. They’ve got different genetics. That’s probably the biggest difference between those two.”
Still, Dosunmu and Miller will remain inextricably linked. What Dosunmu accomplished in his first two seasons at Illinois and what Illinois accomplished as a team in that time mattered when it came to the final stages of Miller’s recruitment. Illini assistant coach Chin Coleman said Miller closely watched how Dosnumu’s career played out in Champaign.
“I think for the most part, though, the very start of this thing was faith,” Coleman said. “We were selling faith. We had to have people believe in the unseen. We knew that given the opportunity with our plan and our vision, we would do what we did this year and we would do this every single year once we got to this point. We had to have guys that believe in us.”
It came down to the relationships the Illinois coaching staff had formed in landing Dosunmu and then Miller. Mac Irvin Fire director Mike Irvin bought in to Underwood and Co.’s vision for the program. So did Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin. So did Quam Dosunmu, Ayo’s dad and a Morgan Park assistant coach.
“Ayo, obviously, was strong enough to take a leap of faith and to believe in us and give us an opportunity to share our vision and see it come to fruition,” Coleman said of Dosunmu committing to the Illini in October 2017, a month before Underwood coached his first game at Illinois. “That happened, obviously, with a young Adam watching and looking. We recruited him early on and targeted him early on.
“To see it all happen the way we said it would happen this year, I think, was enough for him. It was enough proof for him to see, ‘I can do all I want to do and reach my dreams and my goals right here at 青鹏棋牌.’ It’s something I think he wanted to do anyway, but he had to see it in order to believe it and to join it. Him seeing it with Ayo, seeing it with the success we had this year that we said we would have and the way the program is being built right now and the momentum of what we’re doing, I think it was easier for him to join.”
There’s a chance — albeit slim — Dosunmu and Miller could team up once more at Illinois. Dosunmu is all in on the 青鹏棋牌 NBA Draft as an early entrant. That’s his dream, his goal.
However, the current uncertainty of the basketball landscape — both at the NBA and college levels amid the COVID-19 pandemic — means he and his family are leaving the door cracked open for a return to Illinois. But if Dosunmu stays in the draft, Miller will be there to pick up the mantle like he did at Morgan Park, leading the Mustangs to 50 wins the past two seasons and becoming a go-to scorer in the process.
“We’re getting one of the most dynamic players in the country,” Coleman said of Miller. “He can shoot it with range. He can shoot it off the bounce. He can get to the basket. He’s so athletic with his physicality, with his body already being physically fit and prepared.
“A great kid, an unbelievable kid, in terms of who he is character-wise. He’s a hard worker. He works on his game constantly. I know right now he’s going constantly because he isn’t able to spend 20 hours in the gym. It goes without saying we’re getting a really, really, really good player — one of the best players in the country.”