Postponement of NBA Combine, Draft Lottery affect Illini


The Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois Guard Ayo Dosunmu dribbles around a defender during the game against Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at the United Center on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

By Alec Busse, Assistant Video Editor

On Friday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the NBA has postponed the draft lottery and the NBA Combine. Wojnarowski also reported the belief around the NBA is that it is only a matter of time until the NBA Draft is postponed.

Illinois has two prospects who have declared for the NBA Draft: guard Ayo Dosunmu and center Kofi Cockburn.

How does the postponement of pre-draft events affect Dosunmu and Cockburn? Dosunmu is believed to be more likely to stay in the NBA Draft than Cockburn, but both, particularly Dosunmu, have not heard positive news from NBA executives.

This week, Stadium basketball insider Jeff Goodman quoted an NBA executive saying, “(Dosunmu) needs to go back (to Illinois). He’s got negative momentum. And without workouts, I think he could wind up maybe going undrafted.”

Dosunmu’s camp has said he is 98-99% locked into going to the NBA Draft, and the only way he would consider coming back to Illinois for a junior season is if he hears he isn’t going to get drafted or if the NBA Draft doesn’t happen.

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The NBA Draft is going to happen, we just don’t know exactly when because of COVID-19. So, that rules out the latter. But, for a player that was believed to be a solid second-round pick, “negative momentum” is not a phrase he wants to hear.

The best way for Dosunmu to flip the momentum would be to work out in front of NBA teams at the Combine or with individual teams. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic told The Daily Illini before Dosunmu declared for the NBA Draft, “all that would have mattered for him is how he would have shot in these pre-draft workouts.” However, Dosunmu won’t have that opportunity in the foreseeable future.

Vecenie also published an updated NBA mock draft this week on The Athletic and neither Dosunmu or Cockburn were mentioned in the top-60 picks. Vecenie mentioned in the comments section of that article that he also has heard negative things about Dosunmu from NBA executives.

Dosunmu will need an opportunity to flip the “negative momentum” to see his name appear in NBA mock drafts and hear better things from NBA executives, but when will that time come?

Cockburn has a less interesting decision than Dosunmu does. Cockburn was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, but he is still too raw for NBA teams to feel confident taking Cockburn in the second round. In the same article from Jeff Goodman, an NBA executive was quoted saying, “He’s a monster, but he should go back to school. He may get drafted, but it’s a toss-up. He needs another year in college.”

Those are more confident words than about Dosunmu, but it is also very clear that Cockburn needs to come back to Illinois for a sophomore season to really develop his skills on the offensive end and as a rim protector.

The NBA Draft, like every other sport or related topic, is in a weird spot; Illini fans are just going to have to wait and see what the Illini’s top two draft prospects decide to do with their futures in the NBA Draft.


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