On Wednesday, the Illinois Fighting Illini got some tough news as Kofi Cockburn yet again announced he will be declaring for the NBA Draft and foregoing his remaining eligibility with the program. While an expected departure, this will still be quite a blow for Brad Underwood and his staff as they look to build off a string of quality seasons in Champaign.
Cockburn arrived on campus in 2019 as a highly touted recruit and has lived up to the hype in his career at Illinois, playing 90 games for the Illini and averaging an impressive 17.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks over the course of his career. His performance was a key part of Illinois’ 2021 Big Ten Tournament title and he earned back-to-back All-Big Ten First Team honors the past two seasons.
Cockburn is generally projected outside the top 60 in most draft projections and it’s difficult to see that changing between now and draft day.
While Cockburn’s exit was anticipated, it should still be a significant for Illinois’s season next year. Brad Underwood and staff may need to consider the transfer portal for a viable big man to try and replace some of the lost production a Cockburn departure will represent. We’ll have to stay tuned in over the months ahead.