CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois fans may have an understanding one of their favorite team’s draft decisions of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn sooner than the NCAA’s Aug. 3 deadline.
Alex Tchikou, a 6-foot-11 four-star power forward named Illinois among his final nine selections and is expected to make a commitment in the near future. Tchikou, which is pronounced chi-koo, announced his decision to graduate high school early and reclassify to the upcoming 2020 recruiting class in order to be a college freshman this coming fall.
Tchikou, who is originally from France but played last season at Dream City Christian School in Glendale, Ariz., is now ranked as the No. 36 overall prospect by Rivals.com in the 2020 recruiting class and the sixth-best power forward prospect in the nation. The 6-foot-11 forward had Illinois along with Oregon, Alabama, Mississippi State, Arizona, Florida State, Southern California, St. John’s and St. Mary’s.
This development and recruitment becomes interesting due to the idea that Illinois is technically at the NCAA’s maxim allotment of 13 scholarships but the ongoing draft decisions of Dosunmu and Cockburn put their scholarships in a holding pattern until both make a decision on staying in or withdrawing from the 2020 NBA draft process.
Illini Now/Sports Illustrated has already previous reported that both Dosunmu and Cockburn continue to wait on word for a possible prospects draft combine date to be announced before the NCAA’s Aug. 3 deadline. Cockburn is back in Champaign-Urbana for COVID-19 safety reasons but has yet to checked in for voluntary on-campus workouts. Dosunmu continues to work privately with his father in Chicago as he continue to evaluate his draft options.
At the power forward position, Giorgi Bezhanishvili currently holds down the ‘4’ spot in the Illini system and Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk is coming off a severe foot injury that kept him out of most of the previous 2019-20 campaign. Jacob Grandison, a 6-foot-6 wing player who transferred from Holy Cross, could see some minutes at the power forward spot if the Illini wanted to go with a smaller overall unit.
If Tchikou were to verbally commit to the Illini, it would certainly mean Illinois head coach Brad Underwood is confident at least one of the Dosunmu-Cockburn duo is not returning to Champaign for another year of college basketball. Tchikou would be the sixth Illinois player to join Underwood’s program after being born in a foreign country as Bezhanishvili (Georgia), Andrez Feliz (Dominican Republic), Cockburn (Jamaica), Bosmans-Verdonk (Belgium) and 2020 recruit Andre Curbelo (Puerto Rico) have signed with Illinois.
By reclassifying up a year to the 2020 recruiting class, Tchikou has essentially guaranteed he’ll be spending at least two years with the college program he chooses unless he wants to spend his second year beyond high school in the NBA’s G-League because currently the NBA holds 19-year-old age limit to be a draft-eligible prospect.