Top 10 Illinois basketball players who would have cashed in from new NCAA rules

There is a new NCAA on the horizon, and I couldn't even imagine how much former Illinois basketball players could have made from the new rules
Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages
2 of 6

10. Kenny Battle (1987-89)

There have been some big-time transfers into the Illinois basketball program throughout the years, and Kenny Battle was one of the biggest.

Without Battle transferring in from Northern Illinois, who knows how far the Illini would have climbed? But landing Battle proved crucial in the success of the Orange and Blue.

Just the fact Battle was a transfer would have earned him a lot of money. He averaged 19.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game with the Huskies. There would have been a big bidding war for him,

Battle also helped Illinois be one of the best teams in the country. A No. 3 seed in year one and a No. 1 seed and the Final 4 in year two would have earned him a lot of money. On top of that, Battle was a member of the Flyin’ Illini, which that brand alone should bring in a good paycheck.

I do think the wealth of talent on those great Illinois teams would have lowered his salary, though. There were five NBA players on the team, and that didn’t include Lowell Hamilton who averaged 13.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. If Illinois were to pay all of those players, there would have been a more even distribution of dollars. That is why Battle is only No. 10.

9. Kofi Cockburn (2019-22)

Big man Kofi Cockburn made his presence known on the Illinois basketball team. His time in Champaign was special, and I will never forget his matchups with players like Luka Garza.

Kofi is kind of the opposite of Battle when it comes to why he is just inside the top 10. Battle had all of the accolades and the deep NCAA tournament run, but he had a lot of talent around him, which brought down his money.

I think a large part of Kofi’s financial value is coming from him being a star on a team that didn’t have stars. Even when he had another star, Ayo Dosunmu, it was just two players at the top to share the bulk of the wealth.

Kofi was also a two-time consensus All-American. He was one of the best players in college basketball. That bumps up his value.

I would imagine not being a top-50 recruit probably hurts Kofi’s value. If he cracked the top 50, that brings him more money and more teams are in a bidding war. Not having NCAA tournament success is another hindrance to his value too.

I still think Kofi cashes in, though. The big man had such a personality and was so dominant. He would have made a killing in college.