The Illinois basketball team lost center Kofi Cockburn as he declared for the NBA draft Tuesday afternoon.
Kofi had a great freshman season for the Illini. He averaged 13.3 points, 8.8 points and 1.4 blocks per game. He was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was a big reason why the Illini went 22-10 this past season.
Kofi hasn’t hired an agent, so the possibility of him returning to Illinois is still an option. But I still want to give my opinion on what his ceiling and floor is if he does decide to go to the NBA.
Ceiling: Hassan Whiteside
For those who don’t know, Hassan Whiteside is the starting center for the Portland Trailblazers. Whiteside is a center who is most effective at setting screens and rolling to the basket and catching alley-oops.
On the defensive side of the ball, Whiteside has been good. He is a good shot-blocker but not good at stepping out on perimeter players or big men who can shoot.
I believe Kofi can be similar to Whiteside in the NBA. I see Kofi as a center whose main role on a team is to catch alley-oops and get rebounds on offense. Just like whiteside, Kofi is good at blocking shots but can struggle against big men who can shoot. I believe Kofi, at best, can be a guy who can average a double-double and be a good interior defender.
Floor: Willie Cauley-Stein
Willie Cauley-Stein is a player who has been in the NBA for five years. He is someone who hasn’t developed an offensive game and is still a raw player. But he can get rebounds and be a good interior defensive presence.
That is why Cauley-Stein is my floor for Kofi. Kofi, at worst, can be a player who doesn’t develop much offensively but can be on a loaded team.
If Kofi does decide to leave, then his void will be hard to fill. I believe his impact on the Illinois basketball program will be felt for years.