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Arizona opponents Illinois and Gonzaga see key players withdraw from NBA Draft

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Arizona Jacob Snow-USA TODAY Sports

If the Arizona Wildcats are able to have a normal non-conference schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic, it just got a lot tougher.

Two of their marquee opponents—the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Illinois Fighting Illini—saw key players withdraw from the NBA Draft this weekend.

Illinois point guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn, the lllini’s leading scorers, announced they will be returning for another season. Dosunmu’s decision was shocking since many mock drafts projected he would be a first-round pick.

The 6-foot-5 rising junior averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists last season. He had 15 points and four assists in the 90-69 loss to Arizona in Tucson last November.

Cockburn, a hulking 7-footer, averaged 13.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. The rising sophomore had nine points and seven rebounds minutes against Arizona.

The Illini improved drastically as the season went on, eventually finishing 21st in the AP poll and 30th in KenPom’s ratings. Arizona is slated to face them in Champaign this season to complete the home-and-home series.

Meanwhile, Gonzaga returned rising junior guard Joel Ayayi, who torched the Wildcats in Tucson last year, logging 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the 84-80 road win.

For the season, Ayayi averaged 10.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.

Arizona is scheduled to rematch the Bulldogs in Spokane in December. Gonzaga is still waiting to hear if forward Corey Kispert, who had a game-high 18 points in last season’s matchup, will return for his senior season or keep his name in the NBA Draft.

The Bulldogs saw sophomore forward Filip Petrusev, their leading scorer and rebounder, sign in Serbia this summer. They ranked No. 2 in the final AP poll.