Less than two weeks after Illinois star guard Ayo Dosunmu declared for the 2021 NBA draft, Fighting Illini big man Kofi Cockburn has made a decision about his future in basketball. After two years in Champaign, the Jamaican native will join his teammate at the next level.
Cockburn declared for this year’s NBA draft on Sunday afternoon after a breakout sophomore season at Illinois. The 21-year-old averaged 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds on 65.4 percent shooting on his way to a consensus second-team All-American nod. He also helped Dosunmu lead the Fighting Illini to a No. 1 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
But, Cockburn will now set his sights on the NBA. He released a statement on Instagram and Twitter to announce his decision.
“… Illini Nation, I can’t even begin to express how happy I am to be an Illini. You guys were not allowed to attend most of the games but your love was felt throughout the entire season. You guys provided ultimate support and I have no regrets from choosing you,” Cockburn wrote.
“Basketball took me places that I wouldn’t dare dream of as a boy. It taught me lessons in life. The NBA has been a life long 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. 21 out.”
DECLARED 🙏🏾❤️ pic.twitter.com/up4Jn0FCV2
— Kofi Cockburn (@kxng_alpha) April 18, 2021
Despite his success at Illinois, Cockburn isn’t a projected draft pick by many major media outlets at this point. The seven-foot, 285-pound center is a talented rebounder and finisher at the rim, but has some limitations outside of the paint on offense and on defense.
However, Cockburn will still have an opportunity to pull his name out of consideration after he gets feedback during pre-draft workouts. As of mid-April, the NCAA has yet to set a withdrawal date for the July 29 NBA draft.