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Top-100 C Kofi Cockburn commits to Illinois

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The Illini add the big man to the 2019 class.

Twitter: @kxng_alpha

Brad Underwood needs good news, and he’s getting it in the form of a 6-foot-10, 290-pound center.

Four-star recruit Kofi Cockburn committed to Illinois on Sunday, announced by Andrew Slater in a tweet. Cockburn was also considering Kansas, St. John’s, Pittsburgh and UConn.

Hailing from Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, Cockburn attends Oak Hill Academy. 247 ranks him as the 33rd-best recruit in the class of 2019 and the ninth-best center in the country. Cockburn spent his first three high school seasons at Christ the King (New York), and is a native of Kingston, Jamaica.

Cockburn joins big man Antwan January in Illinois’ 2019 class.

Illinois had Cockburn for an official visit on Dec. 29, 2018, when he watched Illinois’ overtime loss to Florida Atlantic — a game in which Illinois’ starting big man, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, fouled out midway through the second half and grabbed only three rebounds.

From Tristen Kissack’s recruiting preview on Cockburn in July 2018:

Size — it’s been a point of emphasis for Brad Underwood since taking over this Illinois program. When Jeremiah Tilmon jumped ship for Mizzou, Illini fans knew they could be in for a long winter with the team’s lack of frontcourt depth. Michael Finke was forced to play out of position last season for the team, matching up with guys like Isaac Haas and Mo Wagner. Being vertically challenged played a large part in the team going 4-14 in conference play. Then, losing guys like Leron Black, Greg Eboigbodin, and Finke this offseason really put the staff in a pickle.

When you break down the tape, it’s clear that Cockburn isn’t a typical Underwood-style big. But when one of the best players in the country has interest in your school, you find a way to incorporate his game into your system.

Underwood’s style of play is all about pushing the pace, getting down the floor quick, scoring in transition, and playing aggressive defense. This all works when you have long perimeter defenders who can pressure the ball and get in passing lanes, but it’s essential that you have a rim protector — like Underwood hopes Kane can be — to clean up whatever gets by.

Cockburn isn’t the quickest getting down the floor, but with a guy like Samba on the roster already, Underwood would be able to matchup however he wants with opposing teams. A lineup with Kane allows the Illini to get up and down the floor quickly, beating other bigs down the court, and finding easy transition buckets. With Cockburn on the floor, the lineup gives BU a bully in the paint.

But what I like most about Kofi’s game is that he’s not one-dimensional. You can stretch him out to a high-post position because he’s capable of facing up and knocking down midrange jumpers. He’s not a big who’s limited to the low-post area, although he finishes well and it looks like he has a nice touch to the baby hook.

Just watch his tape:

This big man is quite good.

Read more about Cockburn in this excellent story from SLAM Online.

Here’s a look at Illinois’ most updated scholarship chart after Cockburn’s commitment.

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