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Illinois Fighting Illini Center Kofi Cockburn Declares For The NBA Draft

The freshman is testing the NBA waters.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn declared for the NBA Draft on Tuesday but did not hire an agent. The 7-foot, 290-pound behemoth will have until May 29th to decide whether to keep his name in the draft or return to Illinois for his sophomore season. Take a look at Cockburn’s announcement below.

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The freshman Illini center made a name for himself last season in a league that had many talented bigs. Demonstrating a bruising, punishing style, Cockburn averaged 13.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last season. His contributions were one of the main catalysts for the resurgence of the Illini program under Brad Underwood. Take a look at some of his highlights from last season below.

The big question is where could Cockburn go? He is not currently present in many NBA mock drafts, and likely ranges from a mid-second round pick to going undrafted. Many of the combine events this year will be virtual, so for a player that relies on his physically imposing look and style, this could hurt Cockburn. The NBA also highly values shooting in big men and Cockburn attempted just one three-pointer this season.

Still, Cockburn is tough and tenacious on the boards, fantastic athletically, and a great shot blocker. There is a definite niche for big men in the NBA who can do those things well.

The other side of this decision is Cockburn could come back to Illinois for his sophomore season, put up monster numbers, work on his offensive game, and test the draft waters again. The combine process will likely be more normal next year as well.

This draft decision will a fascinating one to follow. Cockburn is a fantastic player and could bring value whatever he decides to do for the next season.