CHAMPAIGN -- Excitement was in the air for a football Saturday on the Illini campus, and the Illini basketball program certainly took advantage by bringing in five-star 2018 point guard Ayo Dosunmu for a visit.
The Morgan Park (Ill.) product is the top junior prospect in the state of Illinois, and this was his second trip to Champaign since picking up an offer in May. Dosunmu was there to see Love Smith's debut, which was the first college football game he's attended.
"It was a great experience. That was the first college football game that I've been to. Seeing that environment and the fans was a new vibe for me. I liked it," Dosunmu said. "The environment was good. The coaching staff was cool. Overall, I had a nice time down there."
It is a luxury to have a potential McDonald's All-American point guard in your own state, especially one that wants to come to your campus often. What does that say?
"My level of interest is high. For one, it's my home-state school," Dosunmu said. "I came a few months back and I wanted to come back for a football game, especially with it being Lovie's first game. I plan to come back again for a basketball game."
Dosunmu is starting to get a good feel for the Illini staff, and he definitely likes what they have to offer.
"I like Coach Groce a lot. He just brings nothing but positive vibes around. He's always smiling. I like the way he coaches," Dosunmu said. "Overall, he's a good coach and I like being around him."
Another coach Dosunmu likes being around is assistant Paris Parham. The two were seen laughing it up quite a bit on the field prior to the football team's 52-3 win over Murray State.
"That's my guy," Dosunmu said of Parham. "He's funny. He's been around Chicago basketball a lot. Coach Paris knows a lot. He's been to a lot of games up in Chicago. He knows a lot of my old coaches and current coaches. So there's always a lot to talk about with him."
The Illini have another Chicago asset on their staff and that is former point guard great Dee Brown. While he can't recruit off campus, Brown has already made an impact with players during their visits to Champaign.
He has Dosunmu's attention.
"It was tremendous being around him. Just talking with him about the game of basketball. Dee knows the game a lot. He talks the game everywhere he is. And he was a very good basketball player," Dosunmu said. "One of my goals is to play in the McDonald's All-American game. He played in the game. He told me I can play in the game and what I need to do to get there. So I'm just taking all the little things that he was telling me and trying to put them in my game to be a better player."
While he was on campus, Dosunmu also got to watch the Illini go through a workout at Ubben.
"I enjoyed watching them because they talked a lot on defense and offense. They moved the ball, they outletted the ball, they shared the ball. Everybody helped on defense," Dosunmu said. "It was nice to watch. It catches your attention when everybody is talking and moving -- even the bigs."
Dosunmu also really likes the Illinois system.
"That fits my game a lot. Ball-screens and pushing it up and down the floor. That's my game," he said. "Just having the right pieces around me with shooters and bigs that can pick 'n roll, that'll be a big part of where I go to school."
The Illini will have shooters with Jalen Coleman-Lands, who set the program's freshman record for three-pointers in a season last year, and 2017 commit Trent Frazier -- a point guard who can flat out fill it up. Frazier can play on or off the ball, and those two with Dosunmu would provide plenty of firepower.
Illinois also has some attractive big men in the fold. Michael Finke is a great fit to pick 'n pop. And assuming that he stays for a second year, five-star 2017 commit Jeremiah Tilmon could be the big Dosunmu is looking for in college.
He said he keeps a close eye on Illinois' pieces and who they're adding on the recruiting trail.
"Of course, I'm paying attention to that. Getting Jeremiah Tilmon, that was good," Dosunmu said. "Me being a point guard and him being a center, that's a good piece right there."
Dosunmu has the potential to be a monumental piece for John Groce's program. He is an electric scorer at the lead guard spot, and he possesses killer handles, end-to-end quicks and an effortless flow to his game.
The 6-foot-3 point guard had a huge AAU season with the Mac Irvin Fire. He averaged 18.8 points, five rebounds and 3.5 assists per game playing up on the 17U circuit in May.
"I leaned a lot," Dosunmu said of his stellar AAU season. "(Mac Irvin Fire coach) Nick Irvin was big on me and my summer. He instilled more of the killer mentality in me. I just want to stay consistent."
In terms of consistency, that will be a description that fits Illinois' all-out effort to get Dosunmu in the 2018 class. They've shown their interest thus far, and Groce told Dosunmu on Saturday where he stands on the recruiting board.
"He just said that I'm the No. 1 priority. He wants me," Dosunmu said.
As for the programs recruiting him, Dosunmu listed Illinois, Northwestern, Xavier, Creighton, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Wisconsin.
"Mostly those schools are the main ones right now," he said.
The Illini were in the race with other high-level Morgan Park point guards: Charlie Moore and Marcus LoVett. Third time is the charm?