Bulls’ Ayo Dosunmu a late addition to Rising Stars game

He’ll play for Deron Williams, a fellow Illinois alum who mentored Dosunmu when he was going through the predraft process in 2021. The two have maintained a strong relationship since.

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Ayo Dosunmu drives to the basket as the Bucks’ MarJon Beauchamp defends Thursday at the United Center.

Ayo Dosunmu drives to the basket as the Bucks’ MarJon Beauchamp defends Thursday at the United Center.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

It was a great way to wake up from a nap.

Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu was asleep Thursday when he got the call from his agent saying he’d been added as an injury replacement to the Rising Stars Challenge in Salt Lake City. Friday night will mark his second appearance in the showcase for NBA rookies and second-year players that kicks off All-Star weekend.

Since the Bulls drafted him 38th overall in 2021, Dosunmu has been thrust into a considerable role for his hometown team, starting when injuries created opportunities for him as a rookie. Now in his second season, he has maintained a significant spot in coach Billy Donovan’s rotation, especially given the extended absence of guard Lonzo Ball (knee). Through 56 games, 48 of which he has started, Dosunmu is averaging 9.6 points, 2.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds.

On Friday, he’ll play for Deron Williams, a three-time All-Star with the Jazz and a fellow Illinois alum. Williams acted as a mentor to Dosunmu when he was going through the predraft process in 2021, and the two have maintained a strong relationship since.

“He’s gonna play me all the minutes,” Dosunmu said, laughing.

Dosunmu replaces second-year Rockets guard Jalen Green (groin).

“Going down the list of players that played in this game, there’s a lot of great talent,” Dosunmu said. “Of course, I’m a competitor. I’m blessed at the same time. I’m going to try to win — that’s the main goal. You always want to try to win but also have fun. I’m grateful to have an opportunity to be there.”

Don’t worry about DeMar

Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan missed his second consecutive game Thursday against the Bucks. He’s still nursing a strained thigh, revealed by an MRI exam Tuesday, but is expected to play Sunday night in his second straight All-Star Game.

Westbrook watch

ESPN reported that nine-time All-Star guard Russell Westbrook has spoken with the Bulls, as well as the Clippers, Wizards and Heat, after the Jazz granted him permission to engage in talks with other teams.

Westbrook wouldn’t be an answer for the Bulls’ shooting problems, averaging 15.9 points and shooting 29.6% from three-point range, but he could bring valuable energy to a team that repeatedly has been unable to close out critical games. The Bulls would have to waive a player to make room for anyone picked up on the buyout market.

Injury woes

The Bulls added more names to their injury report. In addition to DeRozan, Goran Dragic (left knee), Alex Caruso (left foot) and Derrick Jones Jr. (left adductor) were out against the Bucks. It’s unclear if they’ll be available to face the Nets in the Bulls’ first game after the All-Star break.

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