Dosunmu, Cockburn earn Associated Press All-American honors

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Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu embrace during the game against Iowa on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. Dosunmu and Cockburn were named to the Associated Press’ All-America teams on Tuesday.

By Jackson Janes, Sports Editor

When describing this 2020-2021 Illinois team, “historic” is one of the first words that comes to mind. Whether it be the Illini’s 16 regular-season Big Ten wins, the most in program history, their first Big Ten Tournament title since 2005 or the team’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2013, this team will certainly be remembered for years to come.

On Tuesday, the Illini achieved another first, as junior guard Ayo Dosunmu became the first player in program history to earn the Associated Press’ First-Team All-America honors. Joining him in the first team are Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Baylor’s Jared Butler, Iowa’s Luka Garza and Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham.

Dosunmu wasn’t the only Illini on the list, as sophomore center Kofi Cockburn was named a Second-Team All-American, joining Gonzaga duo Drew Timme and Jalen Suggs, Southern California’s Evan Mobley and Michigan freshman Hunter Dickinson. Dosunmu and Cockburn are also the first Illini to earn All-America honors since Dee Brown.

Dosunmu put together one of the most impressive regular-season campaigns in program history and was unanimously named to the All-Big Ten First Team on March 9. Though he did not win the conference’s Player of the Year award, missing out to Garza for the second consecutive season, Dosunmu became the first player in the last 11 seasons to average at least 20 points, six rebounds and five assists per game; he’s averaging 20.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists heading into the NCAA tournament.

The junior guard also became the third player in Illinois history to record a triple-double — and he accomplished the feat twice in the span of two weeks. Despite missing three games due to a facial injury, Dosunmu finished with the second-most assists, the third-most points scored and the eighth-most minutes in the Big Ten.

The Morgan Park High School alum is a Naismith Trophy semifinalist and a Bob Cousy Award finalist, which is given to the country’s top collegiate point guard. Dosunmu was also a unanimous First-Team All-America selection by Sports Illustrated and Sporting News.

After a dominant freshman campaign, Cockburn got even better in his sophomore season, averaging 17.6 points and 9.6 rebounds while shooting 65.5% from the field. The Jamaica native is the only player across all of college basketball this season to average at least 15 points and nine rebounds while also shooting 65%.

Cockburn was named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Team and a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award finalist, given to the best college center. Sporting News named him to their All-America Second-Team, while Sports Illustrated gave him their Third-Team honors.

The sophomore center is known for his physicality and presence in the paint, as he is leading the nation in dunks with 70 this season. Cockburn was recognized for his dominance this season with a spot on the All-Big Ten First-Team for the first time in his career.

To earn a spot in the rafters at State Farm Center, players must be consensus First-Team or Second-Team All-Americans, and Dosunmu and Cockburn could both fulfill that requirement this season.

With the NCAA tournament on the horizon, Illinois will look to advance farther than the Round of 32 for the first time since 2005, and the Illini will need their two All-Americans to step up if they still want to be playing in April.

 

@JacksonJanes3

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