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What has Kofi Cockburn Been Up to?



May 20, 2022; Chicago, IL, USA; Kofi Cockburn (88) participates in the 2022 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Kofi Cockburn decided to forgo his senior season. What has his professional career been up to?

There is no doubt that Kofi Cockburn was the main catalyst in the Illini’s return to relevance. Ayo Dosunmu was obviously instrumental, however it really is frightening to think about these past few years without Kofi Cockburn. Without him, would Brad have ever come to the realization that the spread offense was not working? Would he put the “deny everything” defense in the trash? Maybe eventually, but Kofi’s presence definitely spearheaded that process. Kofi understandably decided to become a professional basketball player. After 3 extremely successful years, there really was not much more Kofi could prove at the college level.

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Kofi was a part of the Utah Jazz Summer league team. Though his deficiencies were exploited by the likes of Chet Holmgren and other mobile and athletic big men, Kofi ended up finding a professional contract with Niigata Albirex in Japan.

Continued dominance

Even though Japan is not necessarily the hub of all basketball talent, Kofi Cockburn has continued his dominance. He is averaging 19.9 points and 13.0 rebounds per game. He is 6th in the league in points per game and currently leads the league in rebounds. Cockburn’s team is not very good; it currently owns a 4-19 record. I expect Kofi to continue his dominance given the lack of star power in the Japanese league.

What’s next for King Kofi?

I assume Kofi’s dream is to ultimately land a shot in the NBA. However, Kofi’s limited range/skill level in addition to a lack of shot blocking will ultimately place a ceiling on the big man. Kofi is a large presence, however looking at all the big men that start on NBA rosters discourage me that Kofi will ever find a place to stay in the league. NBA centers fall in two molds. A big like Nikola Vucevic, who can stretch the floor and are outstanding passers. Then there are big men like Myles Turner or Nic Claxton, rim running, long athletes who can switch onto guards and shot block at a high level. Unfortunately, Kofi does not fall into either of those molds. Even big men such as Andre Drummond, who were efficient rebounders and big bodies, are falling out of style.

Would Kofi have been an absolute hit if he returned for a senior year? Yes. However, I am excited to see if he ever finds a landing spot in the NBA or at least the Euro league. If not, Kofi will have a dominant overseas career given his size and dominance. Not to mention his infectious personality and smile.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.