As much as we don't want to think of it as a business, it's clearly a business. And while we romanticize Ayo's motivations for being the "guy" who led Illinois basketball out of the wilderness of mediocrity, there is clearly some cache and long-term financial benefit from an NIL perspective to being that guy. I'm thinking Ayo is the smartest guy in the room, from a strategy perspective. His downside was likely above a "Malcolm Hill" level of affinity from Illini fans. His upside, which he achieved: Instant Illini legend. Literally nothing that Adam Miller could do to top that, other than win a National Championship.
More power to these kids for exerting their will and what they want to do (whether it comes from them or their handlers). It may damage the "product" of college basketball long term, but that damage is largely self-inflicted by the greed of the NCAA and the power five. The more money those institutions make off of these kids' efforts, the more these kids and their handlers will want their fair share. And while its fair to question whether it is the correct decision for their careers, it should be theirs, and theirs alone, to make.
Good luck, Acewolf. Wish you would have stayed.