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Ranking Kofi Cockburn’s Most Dominant Performances

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Ranking Kofi Cockburn's Most Dominant Performances
Jan 11, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) chases down a loose ball against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second half at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking Kofi Cockburn’s Most Dominant Performances

Kofi Cockburn became one of the most important Illini athletes in the past decade. He literally was the biggest piece to Illinois Basketball’s resurgence to the upper half of the Big Ten. Kofi had three extremely successful years in Champaign and improved each and every year. Though Illinois was limited in how they could play, Kofi Cockburn was so unbelievably reliable each and every night. During his Junior season, Cockburn could easily be penciled in to give you at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

He had some dominant performances throughout each year, however I wanted to highlight some of the most memorable ones.

Honorable Mention: 11/26/2021 vs UT Rio Grande Valley

38 points, 10 rebounds on 15/19 from the field.

Statistically, this was probably the most impressive line that Cockburn put up. However, this is only an honorable mention given the competition. Also, this was honestly a game that made me want to gauge my eyes out. Illinois was playing without Trent Frazier, Andre Curbelo and Jacob Grandison. They were only up two at the half, and they also found themselves trailing at multiple points throughout the game.

If Alfonso Plummer did not have 30 points, Illinois may have lost at home to UTRGV. So despite Kofi’s statline that night, I would rather forget about this game.

3) 12/11/2019 vs #5 Michigan.

19 points 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. 

Honestly, this game slips a lot of people’s minds. This was before Michigan had Hunter Dickinson, and it was the first year of Juwan Howard’s tenure. Michigan had dominated Illinois under John Beilein, and was the fifth ranked team in the country. This was one of Kofi’s first real test against a high major team, and he aced it. Cockburn changed the game and showed the flashes of  a dominant post presence. Illinois was in the midst of changing their style of play to fit Kofi’s presence and showed what they could do.

Cockburn dominated the veteran, Jon Teske, and consistently altered the shots of Zavier Simpson. Also, not to mention what Kofi accidentally did to Lewis Garrison.

Dec 11, 2019; Champaign, IL, USA; NCAA referee Lewis Garrison reacts after being accidentally hit on the head by Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) while celebrating during the second half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

2) 1/6/2022 vs Maryland

23 points, 18 rebounds 9-12 from the field

In front of Demar Derozan and on Ayo Dosunmu night, Kofi Cockburn was an absolute beast. It felt great to beat a Maryland team that always seems to have Illinois’ number. Cockburn crashed the glass with ferocity, something he inconsistently did. This was such a dominant performance because of the highlight below.

1) 2/2/2022 vs Wisconsin

37 points 12 rebounds on 16/19 from the field.

To start off Black History Month, Kofi Cockburn put up his most impressive performance against the Wisconsin basketball team. During the 2021-2022 season, Illinois and Wisconsin were duking it out to gain control of the Big Ten Conference. Cockburn shut up all of the critics that night, as he dominated the Badgers at the State Farm Center. There was no question that Illinois was the superior team to Wisconsin, and Kofi Cockburn only solidified that thought.

During this matchup, Kofi Cockburn showed how far he had come with his footwork and post moves. He looked smooth and decisive for a guy his size. He also adeptly passed out of double teams and always made the right play to hit the open shooter.

The big fella is an Illini legend and had plenty more dominant performances, however these three games really stuck out to me given the context. I remember all of his performances against Trayce Jackson Davis, and all of the times he gave us a solid 20 point-10 rebound performance. Safe to say there will never be another play in Champaign as dominant as Kofi Cockburn.

Alex is the Owner of Armchairillini.com, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is a Resident Physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Northwestern Medicine and has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS sports and more.

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