Illinois Basketball: Kofi Cockburn drawing interest from 5 teams ahead of NBA Draft

May 19, 2022; Chicago, IL, USA; Kofi Cockburn (88) scores during the 2022 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
May 19, 2022; Chicago, IL, USA; Kofi Cockburn (88) scores during the 2022 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA Draft is nearing, and the Illinois basketball team is looking to get a player selected for the second-straight season.

While it is unlikely that Kofi Cockburn hears his name called this Thursday, June 23, at 7 p.m. CT, the former Illini great is going to land with an NBA franchise. This is something that I can nearly guarantee.

It would be hard for all NBA teams to pass up on one of the biggest draft-eligible players available this year. Kofi had a 7-foot-4.25 wingspan in the NBA Combine, which ranked No. 3 out of all of the participants. He also stood at 6-foot-11, which was the fourth-tallest player in the combine.

On top of the great size, Kofi also displayed other solid measurables. He had the best standing vertical leap, 29.50, out of all of the centers who are draft-eligible. Kofi also had the fourth-fastest three-quarter sprint time.

I honestly believe that it isn’t a matter of if Kofi will be signed by an NBA team, it is a matter of who and when. Once the draft is over, I would imagine he is scooped up fairly quickly as a priority free agent. But what teams are eying the big man?

Former Illinois basketball star Kofi Cockburn has five NBA teams who are eyeing him ahead of the draft.

Yes, Kofi might not be picked by a team in the NBA Draft, but there are five teams who have checked out the Illini great.

  • Atlanta Hawks

The first workout Kofi had for an NBA team was, I believe, the Atlanta Hawks. This workout took place back on May 23. It makes sense that the Hawks are working out Kofi considering they are in the market for a big man.

Atlanta has been rumored to be eyeing a trade for Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert. The Hawks don’t have much size. They are trying to move forward John Collins right now. They also had to rely on Clint Capela in the playoffs. I would imagine that if Atlanta picks up Kofi, they would fast-track him to the NBA quickly based on need.

  • Charlotte Hornets

Back on June 1, Kofi had a workout for the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets have a couple of okay pieces when it comes to the No. 5 spot, but there is no one who is set in stone at this position.

Montrezl Harrell’s contract is up and Mason Plumlee’s contract expires after next season. Drafting Kofi would help give the Hornets more options at center. This could be a place where Kofi sees early playing time. Start him out in the G-League and call him up sometime midseason.

  • Washington Wizards

Just a day after the Hornets worked out Kofi, the Wizards brought in him for another workout. Washington feels like a team that has some pieces to win now, but they are always looking for new young talent.

I could see Kofi starting out with the Capital City Go-Go of the G-League and quickly working his way up to a deep bench player for the Wizards. Also, if Kofi does get picked in the NBA Draft, look for the Wizards to take the flier. They have pick No. 54.

  • Utah Jazz

The Jazz had Kofi in for a workout a few days after the Hornets and Wizards brought him in. Going to Utah would be an interesting scenario for Kofi. If the Jazz would pick up the big man, he would probably spend a few years with the Salt Lake City Stars of the G-League. The Jazz are in more of a win-now mode in an attempt to keep Donovan Mitchell in Utah.

There is a scenario where Kofi might get a shot in Utah, though. It seems likely that the Jazz trade away big man Rudy Gobert this offseason. If there aren’t a ton of center options for Utah, this might be the chance for Kofi to get early playing time.

  • Milwaukee Bucks

Kofi worked out for the Bucks back on June 16. I believe this was his final workout ahead of the NBA Draft.

With Brook Lopez aging and only signed through next season, it might not be a bad idea to have someone like Kofi waiting in the wings. You can send Kofi down to the Wisconsin Herd to hone his game before bringing him up in a year or two.

Next. Wish list for the Illini class of 2023. dark