Ayo Dosunmu

Bulls' Ayo Dosunmu making impact on, off court

Third-year guard is finding his voice as a leader during breakout season

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

When the Chicago Bulls fell behind by 22 points last week against the Sacramento Kings, Ayo Dosunmu’s voice resonated during the timeout huddles, telling his teammates to stick with it, to stay the course.

When DeMar DeRozan took just one first-half shot in that same game, Dosunmu was one of the players telling the veteran scorer they needed him to be more aggressive. DeRozan later erupted for 19 fourth-quarter points in the Bulls’ comeback victory.

This isn’t Dosunmu getting all cocky as a third-year player on the rise. This is Dosunmu finding his voice as a leader that’s consistent with his level-headed personality.

This is who Dosunmu is.

“I have a great relationship with my teammates. They can tell me something that’s constructive criticism, and I can just take it,” Dosunmu said. “I have the same respect where I can tell my teammates if I see something wrong where they keep doing something that’s hurting the team. I can tell them right there and then it’s over with and we move on to the next play.

“That’s what the great teams do. The great teams, they’re never winning the whole game. They always take the other team’s best punch and then throw a punch. That’s how you build consistency.”

Consistent impact is what Dosunmu is achieving on the court in his third straight season as an unexpected starter. With Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams shelved by season-ending surgeries, Dosunmu has moved from a player many expected during the offseason and preseason to be on the outside looking in to instead be making an impact as a starter.

Dosunmu is averaging a career-high 10.8 points on career-high 40 percent 3-point shooting and career-high volume of 3.7 attempts per game.

“For whatever reason, he doesn’t get emotionally upset. I think it’s a huge, huge positive quality for him. He handles adversity extremely well,” coach Billy Donovan said. “He leans into adversity and looks at it as a challenge and not a threat. He gets more focused and energized in those situations. I really admire that.

“When you put your heart and soul into something and it’s not going well, it’s easy to get frustrated. For him, he just battles and fights and competes. Whether he makes a mistake or shot, you’d never know. He just goes onto the next play. And I think he’s been really trying to deliver that message to our entire team.”

Donovan consistently talks about how Dosunmu prefers direct communication and honest coaching. Asked where he thinks his ability to handle this comes from, Dosunmu didn’t hesitate.

“Just the way I was raised. My Dad was always like that,” Dosunmu said. “You know how it is: As a child, when your Dad was like that, as you start to get older, you start to understand why. That’s just how I was always taught, my grandfather. And I think that’s the best way.”

And now Dosunmu is using those experiences to emerge as an important voice for the Bulls.

“We all have the same common goal, which is trying to win,” he said. “I understand there are going to be flows in the game. I understand there are going to be runs. I just always try to tell the team we’re good. Take their run, keep going. Fight back. Keep staying with it and when the game is over, now we can look back at what we could’ve done differently.

“But there’s no need to be in the middle of the game and something doesn’t go our way and we complain or pout. That doesn’t do anything but continue the bleeding. This way, you get closer with the guys. If I know I can trust you to be able to tell you anything, that makes our relationship much stronger.”

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