Illinois star big man Cockburn to enter NBA draft

Illinois star big man Cockburn to enter NBA draft

Illinois junior Kofi Cockburn will enter the 2022 NBA draft and forgo his remaining college eligibility.

“I’m closing one of the most amazing chapters of my life,” Cockburn told ESPN on Wednesday. “I’m proud of what we accomplished in college, but I am not sure it can get much better than that. It’s a scary challenge now and I’m excited to rise to the occasion and try and prove people wrong.

“Thinking back to where I was three years ago when I entered college — people would be amazed to see the progress I made in becoming a two-time All-American. I’m planning on doing the same exact thing in my professional career: pushing my game to new heights.”

Cockburn already entered the NBA draft twice in 2020 and 2021 and cannot withdraw his name from consideration for a third time, according to league rules, making him ineligible to return to college basketball.

“I’m 100% in now,” Cockburn said. “I’m not going back to college. I’m signing with agent Todd Ramasar. I’ve tested the waters enough, I’m 100% dedicated to going all the way.”

Cockburn, a consensus first-team All-American, was the only player in college basketball to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game this past season. He led Illinois to a 23-10 record and a Big Ten championship, which the Fighting Illini shared with Wisconsin. It was the first time Illinois won a regular-season title since 2005.

“If you watched us play, we had a lot of ups and downs,” Cockburn said. “A lot of injuries, COVID, players coming in and out — it was tough. We had to adjust. People are going to be wondering years from now what it was like to play college basketball during a pandemic.

“It was hard to be an All-American two years in a row. We proved to be winners regardless. We had the most wins in the last three years in the Big Ten of any team. People will remember that forever. NBA teams know I’m a winner now. I love to have fun, but I’m a competitor. It wasn’t about my individual goals. Winning was always the priority. That speaks for itself.”

A 7-foot-1 big man born in Kingston, Jamaica, Cockburn was named first-team All-Big Ten for the second straight season. He was a finalist for several player of the year awards, including the Wooden and Naismith as well as the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, presented to the nation’s best center.

“My dream is to be one of the best players in the NBA, especially from Jamaica,” Cockburn said. “I’m playing for something bigger than myself. This is for my country, my people.”

Cockburn, the No. 89 prospect in the ESPN 100, established himself as one of the most physically imposing players in the college game the past three years, with his 7-foot-4 wingspan, 9-foot-3 standing reach and 285-pound frame. His 341 points scored with his back to the basket ranked second in college basketball, according to Synergy Sports Technology.

“I know I’ll have to be a different play in the NBA than I was in college,” he said. “I’m excited about the opportunity. It won’t be about being a low-post scorer against double teams. I’m actually excited about not seeing double teams anymore. From now on it’s about my dedication to being the most fit athlete possible. I look around the league and I’m inspired by the level of physicality and conditioning. That’s where I need to get. There’s no fat on my body, but I can lean out and get faster, quicker, more athletic.

“The NBA values players like Steven Adams and Jonas Valanciunas — guys who set great screens, who know the pick and roll game, how to slip and seal, how to be a physical defender and rebounder who blocks shots. My size can be a major advantage in the NBA. I don’t need the ball to be happy.”

With Cockburn off to the pro ranks, Illinois will need to replace possibly five of its top seven scorers, with Alfonso Plummer, Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams all out of eligibility after five years in college. Sophomore Andre Curbelo elected to transfer to St. John’s, while senior Jacob Grandison is currently undecided about returning for his fifth season of eligibility.

Illinois is bringing in a strong recruiting class with three top-100 prospects in Skyy Clark, Ty Rodgers and Jayden Epps, and is expected to be aggressive pursuing veterans in the transfer portal, especially in the frontcourt. Sophomore power forward Coleman Hawkins looks poised for a breakout season, and freshman small forward RJ Melendez was highly regarded coming into college.

The NBA draft combine will be May 16-22 in Chicago, and the draft will be June 23 in Brooklyn, New York.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.

Check Also

統一獅大物宋文華首登板 外野失誤憾送勝利

統一獅大物宋文華首登板 外野失誤憾送勝利

來到九月後半,在下半季例行賽進行到一半後,季後賽競爭也是如火如荼,戰績獨走的樂天若今天能夠奪勝,接下來將有機會提早點亮魔術數字;統一在最近打擊加溫後,距離全年度第三的味全僅差一勝,也有機會在這禮拜逆轉排名。 在主戰先發胡智為確診後,統一選擇拉上今年選秀的新人宋文華來做先發,宋文華在小聯盟多以中繼出賽,K功了得,今年甚至短暫上過3A,出賽數不多但帳面成績不錯,唯一比較讓人失望的就是曾經的亮點-球速,這也是選秀輪次較後面的原因之一。本場先發就要面對中職火力最可怕的樂天,除了大家擔憂的球速外,宋文華能繳出怎樣的表現值得注意。 傷癒復出的翁瑋均,本季一軍第二次登板回到主場,昔日有主場賽揚的稱號,但對壽也是生涯最棘手的統一,面對統一拿下過五勝,但ERA及WHIP都是偏高的情況,其中在統一今天的打線中,超過半數球員面對翁瑋均對戰打擊率超過三成。雖然上一場出賽表現雖然不佳,若能注意球路進壘點,面對下半季打擊不是這麼出色的統一,有機會繳出不錯的結果。 統一大物宋文華看似還在習慣中職打者,在第一局球數稍微用多了些,雖然球速在140上下,但投滿三局力保不失,內容也有很大的進步空間,期待下次的表現。 四局上半,一出局後郭阜林靠著游擊手失誤上壘,隨後靠著林岱安的安打,以及林靖凱的短打先得一分,接著陳傑憲選到保送形成滿壘,兩出局後羅薩右外野安打送回兩分,四局上半統一率先得分,3:0領先。 下個半局樂天也還以顏色,面對統一第二任投手施子謙,一出局後郭永維因中外野手的失誤上壘後,靠著滾地球推進以及張閔勳的安打先追回一分,緊接著下一棒選到保送後,陳晨威的安打讓左外野發生失誤,一棒追平比數,成晉再補上三壘安打送回超前分,樂天一局就將比分追平甚至超前,4:3逆轉。 五局下半,面對統一第三任投手傅于剛,梁家榮一上場就敲出右外野陽春砲,5:3樂天再追加一分。 比賽後半段,樂天也啟用勝利方程式,未讓統一越過雷池一步,最終樂天就以5:3奪勝,有機會在明天就點亮魔術數字。 統一獅VS樂天桃猿 數據統計 1 2 3 4 5 …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.