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Illinois Star Kofi Cockburn Reportedly Enters NCAA Transfer Portal

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 2, 2021

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Illinois center Kofi Cockburn has reportedly entered the transfer portal, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN.

Andrew Slater of Pro Insight first reported the news, noting that Cockburn will also keep his name in the NBA draft.

Cockburn initially declared for the draft in April after two seasons at Illinois and seemingly planned to remain there after his heartfelt goodbye to the program via Instagram on June 1. He wrote: 

"Extremely happy to have been apart of and represented a program like this, I enjoyed every single day I spent in Champaign and I am proud of the growth I had while I was there, words can’t express how much I love the Illini and I wouldn’t trade that part of my journey for the world."

It now appears he can return to college but play for a new team next season. He has until July 7 to withdraw from the NBA draft.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman didn't project Cockburn to be picked in either of the two rounds in his latest mock draft.

The center can still make a major impact at the college level after an All-American sophomore season in which he averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He finished the year with 16 double-doubles in 31 contests, scoring in double figures in all but two appearances.

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This production, along with the play of teammate Ayo Dosunmu, helped Illinois finish 24-7 with a Big Ten tournament title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament before a second-round loss. It was the program's first appearance in March Madness since 2013.

The Illini could have a tough time staying competitive after likely losing Cockburn as well as Dosunmu. Trent Frazier will at least return for a fifth season, while Andre Curbelo could have a big role after a strong freshman year.

Cockburn, meanwhile, will be eligible immediately after changes to the transfer rules this season. The NCAA's adoption of a new name, image and likeness policy could also affect the player's decision as he continues his college career.

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