Kofi Cockburn withdrew his name from the NBA Draft on Tuesday, announcing that he will return to college and continue to explore where he’ll play next. The 7-foot-1 big man born in Kingston, Jamaica played his first two years at Illinois but entered the transfer portal last week to see all of his potential options.
It hasn’t been long since Cockburn put his name into the portal, but a possible suitor has already emerged.
Cockburn told Jonathan Givony of ESPN that the Kentucky Wildcats are one of the “serious” options on the table at this point. He cited his relationship with former Illinois assistant Orlando Antigua, who left to become an assistant at Kentucky, as one of the primary reasons he was considering a move to John Calipari’s program.
“He’s the reason I went to Illinois,” Cockburn said of Antigua. “When he left along with Chin Coleman, I decided to go in the portal to leave my options open.
“Kentucky? It’s a serious option. Antigua is my guy. I’m going to consider them, but there [are]a lot of schools. I wasn’t really focused on that while I was in the NBA draft. Now I can take my time and evaluate it better.”
News: Kofi Cockburn will withdraw from the NBA draft (@Andrew__Slater reported first) and explore where to spend his junior season by way of the NCAA transfer portal, he told ESPN. Kentucky is “a serious option,” he says. He’s setting up college visits now https://t.co/zRkhht9Nne
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) July 6, 2021
Cockburn earned first-team All-Big Ten and a second-team All-American nod after an impressive 2020 season at Illinois. He averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 27 minutes per game, shooting 65.4% from the field and proving to be one of the best pick-and-roll players in college basketball.
Cockburn shared with ESPN that NBA teams are hoping to see more of his game out on the perimeter before he heads to the league. That could lead the big man to look for a program where he can focus on those skills.
As the summer continues on, Cockburn’s decision will be one of the most interesting potential transfers to watch.