July 1, 2022

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Kofi Cockburn enters the NBA draft after three seasons with the Illinois Fighting Illini

Kofi Cockburn enters the NBA draft after three seasons with the Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois Junior Kofi Cockburn He will enter the 2022 NBA Draft and forfeit the remaining college eligibility.

“I’m closing in on 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’m not sure it could be much better. It’s a daunting challenge now and I’m excited to rise to the occasion and try to prove people wrong.

“Thinking about going back to where I was three years ago when I entered college – people were amazed to see the progress I had made in becoming a Twice All-American. I plan to do the exact same thing in my career: push my game to new heights.”

Cockburn has already entered the NBA draft twice in 2020 and 2021 and cannot take his name out of consideration for the third time, according to the league’s rules, making him ineligible to return to college basketball.

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

Cockburn, the unanimous first-team All-American, was the only college basketball player to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. He led Illinois to a record 23-10 and Big Ten Championship, which 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. “Lots of injuries, COVID, players in and out – it was tough. We had to adapt. Years from now people will be wondering what it was like to play college basketball during the pandemic.

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“It was tough being an all-American player for two years in a row. We’ve proven that we are winners regardless. We have 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 am a winner now. I like to have fun, but I’m competitive. It wasn’t about my individual goals. Winning was always the priority. That speaks for itself.”

Cockburn, a 7-foot-1 big man in Kingston, Jamaica, was selected for the first All-Big Ten team for the second consecutive season. He was a finalist for several Player of the Year awards, including the Wood and Naismith Award as well as the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, presented for the nation’s top spot.

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

Cockburn, 89th in the ESPN 100, has established himself as one of the most physically imposing players in the college game over the past three years, with a wingspan of 7 feet 4 feet 9 feet 3 standing and 285-pound frame. His 341-point back-to-basket score is second in college basketball, according to Synergy Sports Technology.

“I know I should be in the NBA different than I was in college,” he said. “I am excited about this opportunity. It will not be about being a low-level top scorer against double teams. I am really excited not to see double teams anymore. From now on, it is about my dedication to being the fittest athlete possible. I look around the league and I am inspired by my level of fitness and conditioning. This is where I need it.There is no fat in my body, but I can lean in and get fitter and faster and more athletic.

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“The NBA appreciates players like Stephen Adams and Jonas Valanciunas – guys who put up great screens, who know the game of pick and roll, how to slide and chop, how to be a physical defender and a striker that blocks shots. A huge advantage in the NBA. I don’t need the ball to be happy.” .

With Cockburn out of the pro ranks, Illinois will need to replace perhaps five of its top seven scorers, with Alfonso PlummerAnd Trent Fraser And Damonte Williams It’s all out of eligibility after five years in college. A student in his second year of study Andrei Corbelo Elected to move to Saint John, while he was a senior Jacob Grandison He is currently hesitant about returning for the fifth season of his eligibility.

Illinois brings in a strong recruiting class with three top 100 potential recruits in Skyy Clark, Ty Rodgers, and Jayden Epps, and is expected to be aggressive in pursuing veterans at the transfer gate, especially in the forward area. The second force forward Coleman Hawkins Looks ready for hack season, and a new little striker RJ Melendez He was held in high esteem upon entering college.

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

Jonathan Jevoni is an NBA draft expert and founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a proprietary exploratory and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA, and international teams.