Kofi Cockburn declares for NBA Draft

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Jonathan Bonaguro

Freshman Kofi Cockburn celebrates during Illinois’ game against Indiana on March 1. The Illini beat the Hoosiers 67-66.

By Jackson Janes, Assistant Sports Editor

After one year at Illinois, freshman center Kofi Cockburn has decided to forgo his final three years of eligibility and declare for the NBA Draft. The decision was announced via a post on his personal Instagram account. It is unclear whether Cockburn has hired an agent, meaning there is still a possibility he returns to Illinois for his sophomore season.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-sMyzVlSIC/

Cockburn took the Big Ten by storm, averaging 13.3 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game and 1.4 blocks per game. He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week seven times before ultimately winning the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award, while also setting the program’s freshman rebounding record and becoming the fifth all-time leading scorer among freshmen.

His block on Iowa center Luka Garza in the closing seconds of what turned out to be the Illini’s final game of the season will forever be remembered by fans, with the block sealing a double-bye for the team in the eventually-canceled Big Ten Tournament.

Playing in all 31 games this season, Cockburn’s presence on the court will be missed, as his physicality and sheer strength allowed the Illini to strive in the paint. Sophomore center Giorgi Bezhanishvili would need to replace the productivity that the Jamaican star brought to the team, in the case Cockburn is drafted.

“Ever since I began playing basketball a fire has been lit inside me which I knew I had to pursue to the fullest extent,” Cockburn said in the post. “With that being said, I have decided to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft.”

It remains unclear whether or not sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu will join Cockburn at the 2020 NBA Draft.

@JacksonJanes3

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