DeMar DeRozan’s status for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game is up in the air as the Chicago Bulls‘ leading scorer and assist king contends with a quad injury. He was scratched from Wednesday’s bout with the Indiana Pacers and it appears as though he’ll be sidelined from Thursday’s bout with the Milwaukee Bucks, too.
With that being the case, there’s a chance he misses the Association’s midseason showcase as well so he can heal up for the Bulls’ stretch run. However, that doesn’t mean that the club will be without representation at All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City. And we’re not just referring to ex-Bull Lauri Markkanen’s appearance in the big game.
Rather, Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu has received a last-minute invitation to the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night. The 23-year-old will be joining the field of first and second-year players as an injury replacement for Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green.
Not only that — Dosunmu will be suiting up for the team coached by one of Champaign’s ultimate heroes.
Bulls Guard Ayo Dosunmu Will Play for an Illini Legend in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend
Green had been slated to suit up for the Rising Stars squad helmed by former Utah Jazz and University of Illinois star Deron Williams. So, the addition of Dosunmu to the proceedings means that a pair of Illini legends will now be teaming up in the event.
In doing so, they’ll look to beat out a pair of former Bulls faves in the three-game tourney. Two of the other teams will be coached by Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, respectively. Meanwhile, a third team — coached by ex-baller/Jazz assistant Jason Terry — will be comprised of top players from the G League.
Dosunmu had made a solid case for inclusion even before Green’s injury situation arose. Over 56 appearances with the Bulls this season, the 6-foot-5 combo guard has averaged 9.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists nightly while connecting on 50.9% of his attempts from the floor.
Of course, this won’t be Dosunmu’s first Rising Stars experience. He suited up for Team [Gary] Payton as a rookie in last year’s event, scoring five points in a losing effort against the eventual champion, Team [Rick] Barry.
Dosunmu Sounds Off on Joining Up With D-Will
After receiving his invite, Dosunmu told reporters that the one downside of participating in the Rising Stars event was that he was forced to cancel a planned spades tournament in order to do so.
That said, the opportunity to join forces with D-Will — which he only learned he would be doing while talking to reporters ahead of the Bucks game — seemingly made up for it.
“He’ll play me all the minutes. Cool,” Dosunmu joked.
“I actually just talked to him about a week and a half ago; just checked in on him. When I was going through my pre-draft process, he was a big mentor. Just giving me advice, not within the process but more so like what to expect in the NBA, how can I prepare — things of that nature.”
The 2023 NBA Rising Stars Challenge will tip-off at 8 p.m. CT on Friday, February 17. The event will be televised on TNT.