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For Bulls’ Ayo Dosunmu, joy is having the hometown presence of family in abundance

Dosunmu, 21, gets to live with his brother, eat dinner with his sisters, lean on Mom and Dad and chase his hoops dream in his own backyard. What a wonderful life.

New Orleans Pelicans v Chicago Bulls
Dosunmu has family support all around him.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The name at the top of the Dosunmu family text group is #WeTalkSh*t — asterisk and everything — and there’s only one rule: There are no rules.

“Come as you are,” says Quam Dosunmu, father of Bulls guard Ayo. “Speak openly. Express yourself.”

The rookie’s brother, sisters, parents, aunts and uncles all are part of a group that texts mostly about — take a wild guess — basketball. At least half the texts these days seem to come during Bulls games, and a good many of those are sent from the United Center stands, where upward of a dozen family members pile into the same section and cheer on the pride of Morgan Park and the University of Illinois.

Ayo is the baby. Every now and then, perhaps after a rough practice or a bad game, the 21-year-old Dosunmu — not much of a curser — will get a tad colorful with his language. “Excuse me, parents and aunts and uncles, but this is how I feel right now,” one such text began.

The texts bring Dosunmu comfort, but there’s nothing like the physical presence of family. Ayo — which means “joy” in the West African language Yoruba — got to stay home after the Bulls drafted him 38th in July. He got to chase his hoops dream in his own backyard, got to find a new place to live in the West Loop with brother Kube, gets to see his sisters for dinner at Mom and Dad’s multiple times a week when the Bulls are in town.

What a wonderful life.

“It feels amazing,” said Jamarra, his mom. “It definitely is a blessing. Like most rookies, he is very young and inexperienced in life. For us to be here to help him navigate through this next phase of his life on a day-to-day basis, to have that guidance — he’s a man now, but still, to have that guidance — it does feel good.”

Ayo Dosunmu’s mother, Jamarra (front, in red), with family at Staples Center in Los Angeles on the Bulls’ current trip.
Photo by Quam Dosunmu

Jamarra, Quam, both of Quam’s brothers and one sister-in-law were in the stands for games at the Warriors, Clippers and Lakers on the Bulls’ current road trip. Going to all home games and scattered road ones is a deviation from what would have been the plan had Dosunmu been drafted by a team in another city. Quam was going to move wherever Ayo did for the first couple of years. Jamarra was going to keep running her South Loop beauty salon, Salon Sevhn, and make regular visits to see them.

Instead, they’re doing this. And this is mighty nice.

“The foundation has been laid,” Quam said, “and now we’re continuing to build together. I’ll use the words [Ayo] uses: ‘brick by brick.’ We’re just going to go brick by brick in what we’re doing.”

The whole family feels connected to Dosunmu’s success and to that of the resurgent Bulls. Both parents emphasize they root and cheer for everyone on the team just as they did at Illinois, Morgan Park and Westinghouse before that. Jamarra makes a point of saying how grateful she is to DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine for taking her son under their wings.

“For him to get to see how it’s done?” she said. “That’s a blessing.”

That’s joy.

JUST SAYIN’

Illinois basketball fans were all over Andre Curbelo after the sophomore shot 4-for-18 and turned the ball over seven times Monday night in a 67-66 loss at Marquette. Curbelo, maybe the best pure point guard the Illini have had since Deron Williams, was kind of a mess out there in the third and final game of All-American center Kofi Cockburn’s suspension.

But you know what? That’s college basketball in November. And that’s Curbelo, who never met a flashy play he was unwilling to try. It’s what makes him as entertaining as any player in the country. There’s going to be some bad — especially early on — with all the good. It’s just how this thing works.

Ask Williams.

“Oh, man, I know what that’s like,” he said Tuesday. “I had 10 turnovers against Providence.”

Iowa Hawkeyes v Illinois Fighting Illini
Deron Williams in his Illini years.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Not true. Williams, then a sophomore, had nine of them — to go with one stinkin’ basket — in a December 2003 upset loss to the Friars at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“That wasn’t fun,” he said.

The Illini — a season before they reached the national championship game — went on to win the school’s first outright Big Ten title in 52 years. That? That was fun.

• My latest AP Top 25 ballot: 1. Gonzaga, 2. Kansas, 3. UCLA, 4. Villanova, 5. Michigan, 6. Duke, 7. Purdue, 8. Illinois, 9. Memphis, 10. Houston, 11. Alabama, 12. Oregon, 13. Kentucky, 14. Baylor, 15. Connecticut, 16. Virginia Tech, 17. St. Bonaventure, 18. Arkansas, 19. Maryland, 20. Tennessee, 21. Ohio State, 22. Auburn, 23. USC, 24. North Carolina, 25. Texas.

• OK, so Loyola University isn’t located all that close to the Atlantic Ocean. Just calling it like I see it, folks. But Loyola’s planned move to the Atlantic 10 Conference beginning in the 2022-23 academic year is big for the school and very promising for a men’s basketball program that has rarely, if ever, been hotter.

There’s nothing wrong with the Missouri Valley, but the A-10 is a step up in quality and visibility. Dayton and Saint Louis make good sense as budding rivals. St. Bonaventure is on fire right now. Is it relevant that Steph Curry played at Davidson? Probably not. But this is a move Ramblers fans should be excited about.