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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Stephen Bardo didn’t need a lot of time to assess when asked if professional basketball was ready for Illinois center Kofi Cockburn.

In an appearance on ‘The Drive with Lon Tay and Derek Piper’ on ESPN Radio in Champaign Tuesday, Bardo said he expected the freshman center to be a first round pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.

“Does he translate to the NBA? Let me see, he’s 7-foot, 290 pounds. He runs like a guard and he’s got a feathery touch from the foul line and can jump hook with either hand,” Bardo said. “I think that translates pretty well to the NBA.”

Bardo went even further that he believes Cockburn, who currently leads the Illini in scoring at 15.4 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game, would be an early pick in the upcoming draft.

“I think he’ll be a lottery pick regardless of how he plays from here on out,” Bardo said. “Physically you just can’t pass on a kid like that and he’s really just scratching the surface of what he’s going to be as a basketball player. His upside is as good as any player as Greg Oden at his position that I’ve seen in the Big Ten.”

Bardo was the starting point guard all four years at Illinois and helped the Illini reach the NCAA Tournament each season. During his Illini career, he was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and was a two-time All-Big Ten Conference selection while also helping Illinois reach Final Four in 1989. Bardo scored 909 points and compiled 495 assists in his four-year career. After a 10-year professional career mostly overseas, Bardo began his broadcasting career as an men's basketball analyst for the Illini Radio Network.

Stephen Bardo is a basketball analyst for the Big Ten Network and FS1, appearing in both studio shows and game broadcasts.

Stephen Bardo is a basketball analyst for the Big Ten Network and FS1, appearing in both studio shows and game broadcasts.

Cockburn shared the Big Ten Conference Co-Freshman of the Week honors this past week with Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis. Cockburn earns the honor after averaging 15 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in a pair of wins over No. 5 Michigan and Old Dominion. It was already the fourth Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolade for Cockburn, just six weeks into the 2019-20 season.

Cockburn recorded his sixth double-double in the 71-62 win over Michigan, posting game-highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds while blocking a career-high four shots. With that effort, in just 10 games Cockburn has already equaled the Illinois record for double-doubles by a freshman, first set by Efrem Winters during the 1982-83 season.

Cockburn isn’t listed as a projected draft pick by any of the notable 2020 mock drafts but that could change if the freshman continues to produce this season.

Cockburn, who was ranked by as the 50th-best player in the 2019 recruiting class, is second in the nation in offensive rebound percentage (20.4 percent) and ranks 47th in defensive rebound percentage (26.6 percent).

“He’s gone (at the end of this 2019-20 season) and if he’s not gone, then there’s something to it,” Bardo said. “You just don’t find guys with his size and his athleticism.”