Preps Talk

How two-a-days and a refined jumper helped Ayo Dosunmu make the USA Basketball U18 team

How two-a-days and a refined jumper helped Ayo Dosunmu make the USA Basketball U18 team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo -- Ayo Dosunmu wasn't satisfied after his senior season ended at Morgan Park.

Although the 6-foot-4 guard won another Class 3A state championship to close out a storied IHSA career, the work before heading to play college basketball at Illinois was just getting started.

With invitations to prestigious April all-star events like the Jordan Brand Classic and the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic, Dosunmu wanted to be ready to face the best players in his class in front of national scouts and NBA personnel. 

Waking up at 5:30 a.m. every morning and working out at the Kroc Center on the South Side, Dosunmu and his father, Quam, would focus on his body prior to attempting around 300 jumpers all before school started at Morgan Park at 7:30 a.m. every morning.

Then the phone call came.

USA Basketball invited Dosunmu to tryout for the U18 national team that would play for a gold medal in FIBA Americas held in Canada this June. 

That's when the two-a-days started. 

With the morning plan staying the same, Dosunmu and his father added the afternoon workouts into the equation. When school let out each afternoon, Dosunmu would finish his homework and get in a nap before heading back to the Kroc Center for more lifting and jumpers around 6 p.m. 

Dosunmu made it a point to fix the inconsistent perimeter jumper that always seemed to pop up on his scouting report. After hearing from NBA scouts that he had a low release point on his jumper after the Jordan Brand Classic, the motivation to fix the jumper really kicked in.

The final part of the training was a 4.5 mile run every night. Quam would drop off his sons, Ayo and Kube, along with Ayo's best friend, Dre, at 55th Street right along the lake. From there, Quam drove north to the 31st Street beach and waited for the group to finish the run. Sometimes, Quam would park in different spots to add more distance.

The hard work, the two-a-days, and the refined jumper clearly paid off for Dosunmu. The former Morgan Park star was one of 12 players selected for the USA U18 team which will play in the FIBA Americas tournament that begins on Sunday.

Armed with the new-and-improved jumper and an added sense of confidence, Dosunmu was one of the breakout players during USA Basketball's training camp in Colorado Springs last week. One of the things scouts really noticed was the overhauled perimeter jumper.

"You don't often see an overhaul like that going into a freshman year," Mike Schmitz of ESPN's Draft Express said of Dosunmu. 

"It seems he's really changed his shot, that's really the biggest thing with him. He used to have such a low release. I think he's still working through that, in-game, from a release standpoint. But from an NBA perspective, he has the tools. I think it's just continuing to slow down and being a point guard."

Dosunmu's jumper used to have the low release and often didn't feature a refined follow through. While he could get by at the high school level because of his natural scoring acumen, high skill level and athleticism, Dosunmu's jumper was streaky.

Quam noticed a breakthrough right before Ayo left for Philadelphia and the Iverson Roundball Classic in late April. While father and son had worked hard on the perimeter jumper since sophomore year, Ayo took things very seriously upon receiving the NBA's feedback after early April in the Jordan Brand Classic.

Filming every shooting workout and watching over the film, Ayo started to see the differences in his jumper as it gradually got better.

"I didn't want to have defenders going under on screens and I'm missing. So I just went to the gym. And me and my dad, nobody there, and we just put up shots. He told me, 'don't worry about the misses, worry about the release point. Try to get it up and out,'" Ayo said. "So that's what I've been doing. Staying in the gym: shooting, shooting, shooting. After about a week and a half, I got more consistency with it. After two months, I started to get used to it. Now I can do moves and step backs and things like that."

With the improved jumper on display, Dosunmu let the rest of his all-around game speak for itself at the USA tryouts. Playing on and off the ball during tryouts, Dosunmu was able to facilitate out of high ball screens while also knocking down catch-and-shoot jumpers if he played off the ball.

Defensively, Dosunmu was a menace, often picking up opponents nearly the length of the floor and showing an intensity that many others in camp didn't have. While the thin air in Colorado Springs often does damage to first-timers like Dosunmu, the two-a-days and lakefront runs back in Chicago had him prepared to go all-out during the tryout.

"It's easy for me because the way I was raised -- to play the game the right way. So when I come to camps, I can play on the ball or off the ball. Bring my versatility. So that's what I'm trying to show," Dosunmu said.

"That's how I got used to this atmosphere, by doing two-a-days. I just want to keep getting more consistency on my jump shot, keep working on it. Because I know my quickness, speed and length -- and my jump shot coming along -- that's going to make it tough on the defense."

Competing for a gold medal is a huge moment for Dosunmu as he'll be playing for Kansas head coach Bill Self and a staff that includes Wake Forest coach Danny Manning and Dayton coach Anthony Grant. Recruited heavily by Self and Manning before eventually deciding on Illinois for college, Dosunmu is pleased to be able to work with veteran head coaches who are already familiar with his game.

While his freshman season at Illinois will be under an intense spotlight as one of the program's highest-rated recruits in years, Dosunmu is hoping to earn one more title before heading down to Champaign later this summer. 

"I'm excited for college, but I'm really not thinking about that. I'm just trying to focus on locking in for these days and focus on competing for a gold medal because that's been my dream," Dosunmu said.

"It's just great being able to be coached by legendary coaches and to be in this environment. To make the team, the time here, it gets you better. I can take stuff I'm learning here, take it to Illinois, and make me a better player."

High School Hoops Holiday Tournament Primer


High School Hoops Holiday Tournament Primer

The Holiday Tournament season is quickly approaching as we're two weeks away from all of them getting started. Now that some fields for events have been released, we take a look at some local holiday tournaments to watch in the upcoming weeks. We'll be adding more holiday tournaments to this list as fields come out as High School Lites and the @NBCSPreps Twitter account will have plenty of coverage of holiday events. 

Pontiac Holiday Tournament

Dates: Dec. 27-29

Team to Watch: The always-loaded field includes Public League powerhouses like Simeon and Curie along with suburban greats like Bloom, Benet and Oak Park-River Forest. It'll be fascinating to see if Bloom can emerge victorious after the strong start as the young Blazing Trojans have already won some huge early-season games.

Must-see First-Round Matchup: Oak Park-River Forest matching up with West Aurora could be a semifinal in some events, but it falls on 9 p.m. on opening night as two former top-25 teams with plenty of senior star power do battle.

Proviso West Holiday Tournament

Dates: Dec. 26-29

Team to Watch: Plenty of great teams highlight this field, including top 25 teams like Whitney Young, Bogan, Uplift and Leo. Some really good teams in the middle of the field include Hillcrest, Fenwick and Proviso East. But the Dolphins are the No. 1 team in the area with the starpower to back it up. They'll be favorites to claim this title.  

Must-see First-Round Matchup: Fenwick and Dunbar has a chance to be pretty intriguing. As of this writing, Dunbar stand at an unbeaten 7-0 and leaders of the Public League White-Central. The Friars will still be the favorites behind sophomore Bryce Hopkins, but if Dunbar remains unbeaten this one could be a ton of fun. 

Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic 

Dates: Dec. 26-29

Team to Watch: A holiday event with five ranked teams (Willowbrook, Oswego East, Homewood-Flossmoor, Marian Catholic, DePaul Prep), this might be the most wide-open field of any. DePaul Prep is the team to watch here among the ranked teams. The Rams would love to win a big event to gain some confidence for the postseason, as this team would love to play in Peoria. 

Must-see First-Round Matchup: St. Charles East and Stevenson should be two pretty even teams off to pretty good starts this season. The Patriots are in the mix in the North Suburban while the Saints have some solid early wins.

Wheeling Hardwood Classic

Dates: Dec. 26-29

Team to Watch: Wheeling has a resurgence this year as ranked teams include Waukegan, Glenbrook South and St. Viator. Niles North is another team to keep an eye on as this field could have a lot of potential winners. The Lions will be the team to track the most, as they're a top-ten team who lost their Thanksgiving event earlier this year to Evanston. 

Must-see First-Round Matchup: Deerfield battles Buffalo Grove as both teams are off to 2-0 starts in conference play after sluggish starts. If both of these teams continue clicking then this might be the closest first-round matchup. 

State Farm Holiday Classic

Dates: Dec. 26-29

Team to Watch: Kenwood is the top seed at the large-school field in Bloomington, as they have tough competition from all over the state. The Broncos have Joliet Central, Metamora, Rock Island to contend with among a field that has hopefuls from Class 3A and 4A. 

Must-see First-Round Matchup: Rock Island will get a major test against North Lawndale. Don't be fooled by the Phoenix's 3-3 record -- they're a very tough out. 


EDGY: Top 5 Class of 2019 uncommitted prospects

NBC Sports Chicago

EDGY: Top 5 Class of 2019 uncommitted prospects

With the early National Letter of Intent day fast approaching a week from tomorrow (December 19th) here is an update on the Top 5 Uncommitted names in the State of Illinois Class of 2019.

Crystal Lake South four star ranked offensive tackle Trevor Keegan (6-foot-3, 2310 pounds)- Keegan, the state's top ranked name in the Class of 2019 has narrowed down his extensive list of scholarship offers to a Top 3 schools (in no order Michigan, Georgia and Penn State) is set to make his announcement this Friday at 6PM at a press conference at his high school. Keegan has already made official visits to all three schools and has been very hush hush on which school has the inside lead for his services.

Momence three star ranked defensive end Jason Bargy (6-foot-5, 240 pounds)- Bargy was arrested for domestic battery on October 11th and his verbal commitment to Minnesota back in May has since been dropped by the Gophers. Bargy was arraigned on December 5th and according to Kankakee County Court records his case will be heard on January 9th, 2019.

Belleville West three star ranked defensive end Keith Randolph (6-foot-5, 250 pounds)- Randolph, who has been playing football for just the past two years was a standout on the basketball court for the 2017 state championship Maroons. Randolph made his first football official visit to Michigan State this past weekend. Randolph is also expected to make a second official visit this coming weekend to either Illinois or Iowa and it's still not clear if Randolph will sign on December 19th or wait and make more official visits then sign on February 6th, 2019.

Phillips three star ranked wide receiver Fabian McCray (6-foot-2, 180 pounds)- McCray, who committed to Illinois back in early July decided to reopen his recruiting process and decommitted from the Fighting Illini on November 4th. McCray, who took an official visit to Toledo this past weekend is looking hard at schools such as Toledo, Cincinnati, Iowa State and Cal and it's unclear for now on whether McCray will make any other official visits and/or sign a letter of intent on December 19th or wait until the traditional Signing Day on February 6th, 2019.

Perspectives three star ranked defensive tackle Dominic Moore (6-foot-7, 287 pounds)- Moore is literally the biggest uncommitted name left on the recruiting radar screen. Moore, who has drawn recent late interest from a handful of schools but for the most part has been focused on Wyoming, Illinois, Central Michigan and New Mexico. Moore has yet to set up any official visits but is planning to take official visits in January. Moore, who has NFL level size and potential could also draw more late recruiting attention after the early signing period is completed on December 19th.