CHAMPAIGN – Illini Center Kofi Cockburn declared for the NBA project on Tuesday, via a social media ad.
“To begin, I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to live my dream and to play this wonderful game that I love so much. Thank you to my coaches and mentors for taking a chance on me and guiding me on this journey. To my family, I cannot thank you enough for the love and advice. Without that, I don’t know where I would be today. For my team, the bond I have created with my teammates is something that I will cherish forever. We have continued to elevate, encourage and motivate each other on and off the field and I am thankful for that. To Illini Nation, what a road it has been. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms. You made this trip even more special. Game after game, you have filled the arena by showing us what true unconditional support is! “
“Since I started playing basketball, a fire has started in me that I knew I had to keep going. That being said, I have decided to declare for the NBA 2020 project. Embarking on this new journey is something I have always dreamed of and I have a special love for everyone who helped me get here . “
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year averaged 11.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in the league, while shooting nearly 49% on the field. Cockburn also collected seven double-doubles against Big Ten opponents and 12 total this season – breaking Efrem Winters’ program record, six double-doubles as a rookie.
A source told Illini Inquirer that Cockburn has given the opportunity to return for his second season. As it stands, Cockburn has until June 3 to withdraw its name to preserve its eligibility.
Illinois coach Brad Underwood said in a statement: “We fully support Kofi’s decision. We recruit players from Illinois who aspire to play at the highest level. We will continue to assist Kofi in any way possible throughout this process and with the information it receives from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee. “