Suppose you haven’t followed the Illinois men’s basketball closely this year. In that case, you might be asking yourself, “Why is Ayo Dosunmu wearing a mask?” when the No. 1-seeded Illini face No. 16 seed Drexel on Friday at 1:15 ET in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Illinois star suffered a broken nose on Feb. 23 in an 81-72 loss to Michigan State. The injury caused him to go into concussion protocol and miss the Illini’s next three games.
He returned 11 days later for the season finale vs Ohio State donning a protective black mask that the Illini community quickly embraced.
Dosunmu average 19 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists since his return – leading the Illini to a Big Ten title along the way.
Following the cutting of the nets, Dosunmu paid tribute to his all-time favourite player, Kobe Bryant, to celebrate.