Following his third season at Illinois, big man Kofi Cockburn declared for the NBA Draft looking to start a new chapter of his basketball career. The NBA Draft Combine is currently taking place at Wintrust Arena in South Loop, Chicago, where Cockburn is showcasing his talents for NBA scouts. During this time, he is turning to former Fighting Illini teammate and current Chicago Bulls' guard Ayo Dosunmu for guidance.
“I spoke to him yesterday. I spoke to him the day before," said Cockburn. “It’s just him telling me things that I should show scouts, the way I should carry myself — things that I know already, but just him being that brother to me and letting me know, ‘Yo, this is what they’re looking for. Make sure you’re doing this.’”
Dosunmu emphasized that Cockburn should express his personality as much as he can. Having gone through the process himself, Dosunmu told Cockburn that showing he is a vocal leader carries over more than anything.
The former Illini guard was in the same position as Cockburn in 2020 before returning to school, and last year when he officially entered the NBA Draft. Of course, Dosunmu went to his hometown Bulls with the 38th overall pick in the 2021 draft.
Kofi Cockburn NBA Draft Outlook
Most mock drafts project Kofi Cockburn to come off the board late in the second round or fall out of the draft altogether, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Plenty of players go undrafted and pave their way into a pivotal role on an NBA roster.
Look at former Chicago Bull and DePaul graduate Max Strus, who went undrafted in 2019. He is now in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing an integral role on the Miami Heat as they take on the Boston Celtics.
"A lot of people tell me, you know, back then, if it was the 1990s, I'd be drafted top 10," Cockburn said with a laugh.
One thing Cockburn hopes to showcase at the combine is his motor and his ability to adapt.
"A lot of people doubt my ability to adapt to the NBA,” said Cockburn. “Just to show that you can put me in whatever situation. I’ll definitely contribute, whether that’s rebounding, giving you extra possessions, setting good screens, rolling, stuff that I do at a high level. Just showing that I can do that at the next level."
The two-time All-Big Ten center was an absolute problem this past season, leading the Fighting Illini in points (20.9), rebounds (10.6), and blocks (1.0) per game.
With the NBA Draft looming a little over a month away, anticipation is building for the 7-foot, 293-pound big man. There are a number of teams that could use a big body down low. The Chicago Bulls acquired Tristan Thompson this past season to bolster their weak post defense. Now, Thompson is a free agent and Cockburn could be a potential draft option for the Bulls.
And Ayo Dosunmu surely wouldn't mind that. Never say never regarding an Illini reunion.