Illinois goes big with five-star Kofi Cockburn
Illinois waited to make another mark in its 2019 class but the leap it made on Sunday was a ginormous scoop, in more ways than one. Kofi Cockburn, the most intimidating prospect in high school ball, made it official for the Big Ten bunch, giving the Illini a five-star center that will leave an immediate mark on it upon his enrollment.
“Coach (Orlando) Antigua is from New York. He is very familiar with my family. He is a really cool guy and a good coach,” Cockburn told Rivals.com last month. “We have built a relationship over the years so that could be a good fit for me.”
His relationship with the coaching staff in Champaign was a determining factor for his decision, but so was the vast number of minutes and opportunities for Cockburn to succeed for the Illini. A near 7-footer with a physically developed frame, Cockburn is the definition of a paint presence that will leave a major mark from 15-foot and in immediately next year.
Selecting the Illini over Pitt, Kansas, St. John’s and UConn, Cockburn is a huge haul for Brad Underwood’s squad. A major contributor for the famed Oak Hill Academy program this winter, Cockburn first left a giant dent on the Nike EYBL circuit last summer. He posted per-game averages of 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds, all while providing for a difficult time for his opposition in scoring around the basket, an asset that will be used next season, enabling Illinois’ guards to get after things on the defensive end in funneling the ball towards a rim protector that is Cockburn.
He makes it consecutive recruiting classes for Underwood's taff in securing a five-star prospect during his first two years in Champaign. Following Ayo Dosunmu’s pledge last year, Cockburn adds plenty of size, strength and a presence that is much needed along their frontline. He should squelch frontcourt concerns and be bolstered by the enrollment of fellow Rivals150 center and 2019 classmate Antwan January next year.