Skip to main content

REPORTS: Kofi Cockburn to End College Career & Remain in NBA Draft

Multiple outlets are reporting Illinois center Kofi Cockburn will remain in the 2021 NBA Draft and end his college basketball career.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- It appears Kofi Cockburn has played his final game at the University of Illinois.

Adam Zagoria was the first to report this news and Andrew Slater of Prospective Insight's had his report retweeted personally by Cockburn on Twitter.

On April 18, Cockburn initially announced his decision to enter his name into the NBA Draft for a second time in his career after a sophomore season that included being named a consensus second-team All-American selection.

The 7-foot, 285-pound averaged career highs this past season by earning 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game with 65.4 percent shooting from the field. The Illini center was the only player in college basketball to average 15 points and nine rebounds while shooting at least 60 percent from the field.

Cockburn has until July 7 to withdraw from the draft and maintain his college eligibility without having to re-apply for reinstatement with the NCAA. The NBA Draft scouting combine will be held in Chicago from June 21-27. Cockburn, a native of Jamaica, will turn 22 years old on Sept. 1 and was the premier recruiting get for former Illinois assistant coach Orlando Antigua.

"The NBA has been a lifelong dream of mine, and I am ready to go to the next level and see what’s in store for me," Cockburn’s note shared on social media.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Cockburn remaining in the draft means the Illini will have a completely different center position heading into the upcoming 2021-22 season that will also include the departure of Giorgi Bezhanishvili’s decision to return home overseas, the transfer of Jermaine Hamlin to Eastern Illinois and the arrival of Florida transfer Omar Payne.

The 6-10, 230-pound forward averaged 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in his two seasons in Gainesville, Fla., but shot 75 percent from the field and blocked 63 total shots in fairly limited action. Payne was a top-50 recruit in the class of 2019, ranked No. 44 by ESPN and No. 45 by 247Sports Composite but was unable to find consistent playing time with the Gators in the last two seasons.

"We are excited to have Omar join our program," Underwood said in a university release. "This young man has unlimited potential. He has already established himself as a tremendous defender at this level with his athleticism and length. He is also elite in ball screens and fits our system as a big who will excel in pick-and-roll with the ability to expand his offensive game as well."

Illinois still has two scholarships available for the upcoming season and are reportedly in play for UMass transfer Tre Mitchell and Western Michigan transfer Greg Lee to bolster the frontcourt.

The Athletic's Sam Vecenie recently projects Cockburn to be drafted No. 55 in his latest mock draft and has the Illini center as the No. 87 overall prospect on his rankings.

Cockburn is the first center in Illinois history to achieve consensus All-America status after ranking third in the nation with 16 double-doubles and fourth nationally in field goal percentage while leading the NCAA with 78 dunks.

Cockburn helped lead Illinois to a Big Ten Tournament championship, an NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed and set a school record by defeating six top-10 teams during the season. In what appears to be his final game of his Illini career, Cockburn had 21 points with nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals in NCAA Tournament second round loss vs. No. 17 Loyola Chicago. However, Loyola’s center Cameron Krutwig dominated Cockburn and the Illini frontcourt with 19 points, 12 rebounds and five assists while shooting 9 of 18 from the field.