Big Ten Daily: Illinois Center Kofi Cockburn Declares for NBA Draft

Players are on the move in the Big Ten Conference. Illinois center Kofi Cockburn is looking toward the professional ranks, Michigan guard Eli Brooks is returning for a fifth season and former Indiana center Joey Brunk has found a new program.
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Illinois center Kofi Cockburn announced his decision to declare for the NBA Draft for the second straight season Sunday. He joins Illini teammate Ayo Dosunmu in looking to continue his basketball career at the professional level.

“Basketball took me places that I wouldn’t dare dream of as a boy, it taught me lessons in life,” Cockburn said in a statement via social media. “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. This journey is really special to me and I appreciate everyone who played a part in getting me here.”

As a sophomore, Cockburn was a consensus second-team All-American after averaging 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while shooting 65.4% from the floor. He and Dosunmu led Illinois to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season.

Cockburn is not listed as a projected draft pick by most major media outlets. He is expected to take part in pre-draft workouts to receive feedback from the NBA and improve his draft stock. The NBA Draft is scheduled for July 29, and the withdrawal date for NBA early entrees is July 19. However, the NCAA has not yet announced its withdrawal date.

Eli Brooks Returns to Michigan

The Michigan Basketball program announced Wednesday that guard Eli Brooks will return to the Wolverines for a fifth season. The NCAA awarded winter athletes an extra season of eligibility as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brooks has played in 125 games over his four-year career, making him one of the most experienced players in the entire Big Ten. He averaged 9.5 points, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals last season and shot 39.6% from 3-point range.

Michigan will be without guards Mike Smith and Chaundee Brown, while forwards Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers may depart as well. The Wolverines finished with a record of 23-5 in 2020-21 while earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Indiana Center Joey Brunk Transfers to Ohio State 

Former Hoosiers' center Joey Brunk, who spent two years in Bloomington after transferring from Butler, announced Saturday that he has committed to the Buckeyes.

He has close ties to current Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann, who was his coach at Butler and recruited him out of Southport High School in 2016.

Brunk redshirted his freshmen year, but then played two seasons at Butler for LaVell Jordan after Holtmann left to take the Ohio State job. He graduated from Butler in three seasons and then transferred to Indiana in 2019.

As a junior, he averaged 6.8 points and 6.2 rebounds 19.5 minutes per game while shooting 52% from the floor. Brunk missed last season with a back injury that required surgery in December.

To read the full story on our Sports Illustrated Indiana page, click here. 

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