Bulls stay local, choose Illini's Dosunmu in second round
The Bulls stayed local with their second-round pick in Thursday's NBA draft, taking Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu at No. 38 overall.
This was a bit of a surprise that Dosunmu was still on the board. He was frequently mentioned as having first-round potential when Illinois won the Big Ten tournament title. But his stock dropped, and the Bulls made the move.
"I know my talent," Dosunmu said. "I know I'm a first-round talent. God wanted me to play for my home city. So that's what I'm going to do, I'm embracing it. I'm grateful. I'm thankful to be in this position now. Now it's just about getting to work. I've talked to coach (Billy) Donovan. We had a great conversation. I'm just excited to work and be the best player I can be."
Dosunmu, 21, is listed at 6-5, 200. He's a South Side native who attended Morgan Park High School. He was USA Today's national player of the year last season and a first-team AP All-American, the first in Illini history.
His numbers improved during three years in Champaign. As a junior this year, he averaged 20.1 points, 5.5 assists and 6.3 rebounds. He shot 48.8% from the field overall and 39% from 3-point range.
Dosunmu said he quickly got a text from Bulls guard Coby White, a teammate on the U-18 National squad, which won the FIBA Americas championship. Dosunmu said he watched every Bulls game growing up, shouted out Stacey King on his Zoom call with reporters, and hosted a well-attended draft party with friends and family.
"My friends and family know where my talent is," he said. "They know there wasn't 37 people better than me in this draft. So when I was selected by Chicago, my home city, they know the motivation I'm going to have and play with. While doing it in my home city, it's all just like a dream come true. This was a blessing in disguise. When they called my name and my family found out, we were just excited. It's a feeling I can't explain."
Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said he's looking forward to Dosunmu's versatility helping the Bulls.
"We interviewed him during the combine and we found out how big of a fan he is of the Chicago Bulls," Karnisovas said. "To tell you the truth, we didn't think he wold be there at 38. So it was kind of exciting to see him there. ... He's going to be motivated to come and work hard here."
The Bulls should have roster spots available next season. They are likely to clear out as much cap space as possible to spend on free agents, which should leave room for Dosunmu to stick around, which isn't always a certainty for second-round picks.
The Bulls had no first-round pick this year because they sent it to Orlando, along with Wendell Carter Jr., and a 2023 first-rounder for center Nikola Vucevic. The Magic took Michigan forward Franz Wagner with the No. 8 pick that once belonged to the Bulls.
As expected, the Detroit Pistons selected Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick Thursday night. Houston followed at No. 2 by grabbing preps-to-pros teenager Jalen Green, who bypassed college basketball to play in the G League. Next up was Southern California freshman big man Evan Mobley, who went to Cleveland at No. 3. Then came the first surprise of the night with Florida State forward Scottie Barnes going to Toronto with the No. 4 pick. That bumped Gonzaga freshman point guard Jalen Suggs down to No. 5.