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Illinois Fighting Illini make UMass transfer Tre Mitchell’s Top-Six

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 01 UMass at Saint Louis

The Illinois Fighting Illini have a huge hole in production to fill with the departure of Kofi Cockburn heading into next season. Illini fans as a result should be happy to see UMass transfer Tre Mitchell has Illinois in his top-six for schools he is considering a transfer to.

The Illini would benefit from Mitchell’s talent, especially after West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe passed on coming to Champaign. Mitchell is listed at 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds, which is still much smaller than Cockburn’s 7-foot and 285 pound size. However, Mitchell is still a significant scoring threat despite his smaller size.

Whereas Cockburn averaged 15.5 points per game over his career in Champaign, including 17.7 per game as a sophomore, Mitchell averaged 18.0 over his career at UMass. As a freshman, he was scoring 17.7 per game and upped that to 18.8 as a sophomore. However, Mitchell was hitting at a lower rate inside the arc. He averaged just 56.7 percent from two point range as a sophomore compared to Cockburn’s 65.4 percent. Cockburn was also a higher volume shooter at 10.5 attempts per game compared to Mitchell’s 9.2.

However, Mitchell adds a lot to the roster compared to Cockburn, overall. For starters, he actually has an outside shot. Mitchell averaged 3.1 attempts from deep last season and converted 37.5 percent of them. For a big man, that is certainly enough to help keep a defender spaced out some compared to Cockburn.

On top of that, Mitchell also outpaced Cockburn in assists, steals, and blocks. While he was playing in the Atlantic 10, Mitchell was totaling 2.2 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 steals last season compared to Cockburn’s 0.2 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 0.3 steals. Cockburn did average 9.5 rebounds per game last season versus Mitchell’s 7.2 boards.

Tre Mitchell would make a good combination with forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili to keep the front court strong for Illinois heading into next season. With the departure of Dosunmu and Cockburn, Trent Frazier could really benefit from having a reliable scorer in Mitchell down low and a player who can better stretch the floor with more of an outside threat than Cockburn posed to defenders.

Should Mitchell end up picking Illinois in the end, Illini fans should find the news welcome as head coach Brad Underwood looks to get his roster together for next season.