College basketball rankings: Illinois enters early Top 25 And 1 after Kofi Cockburn decides not to transfer

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CBS Sports 16 July, 2021 - 08:29pm 24 views

Is Kofi Cockburn staying at Illinois?

The rising junior center announced on Friday that he intends to play for Illinois during the 2021-22 season. ... Staying at Illinois, Cockburn will potentially enter the season as a favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year, and possibly the Naismith Trophy. He led the nation last season with 78 dunks. The Champaign RoomKofi Cockburn returning to Illinois for junior season

Where is Kofi Cockburn going?

The biggest men's basketball name to enter the transfer portal in, well, the history of the transfer portal is not transferring after all. Star big man Kofi Cockburn, a 2020–21 consensus All-America honoree, is headed back to Champaign for his third season at Illinois, he announced Friday. Sports IllustratedAfter a Rough Offseason, Illinois Strikes Gold With Kofi Cockburn's Return

Champaign, ILL.– Fighting Illini All-American Kofi Cockburn (Kingston, Jamaica) announced on his social media accounts Friday that he will return to Illinois for the 2021-22 season.

Cockburn is the first center in Illinois history to achieve consensus All-America status, averaging 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds while making 65.4% from the field during his dominant sophomore campaign in 2020-21. He ranked third in the nation with 16 double-doubles and fourth nationally in field goal percentage while leading the NCAA with 78 dunks.

Cockburn helped Illinois to a 24-7 record, including a 16-4 mark in conference play followed by the Big Ten Tournament championship and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Illini set school records with 19 victories against Big Ten competitors and six wins over top-10 teams. Illinois ended the year at No. 2 in the final AP poll, the second-highest ranking in program history. 

The Illini now return three starters and six of its top nine players from last year's rotation. Led by Cockburn, who enters his junior season as a national player of the year candidate, Illinois welcomes back 63% of its minutes, 60% of its points, and 69% of its rebounds while adding three standout transfers and a top-25 ranked recruiting class.

KING'S BACK ?? pic.twitter.com/NooK3q9BKp

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Kofi Cockburn's return propels Illinois up rankings

247Sports 16 July, 2021 - 10:00pm

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Three of Illinois' five most-used lineups down the stretch last year featured the 6-6 Grandison at the four next to Cockburn, allowing for the kind of spread that Brad Underwood covets. And while Cockburn is a different kind of center than what Underwood has had in the past, playing four out around him, with at least three of those players able to knock down outside shots, seems like a formula for another top 10 type offense. Illinois had KenPom's No. 8 offense in adjusted offensive efficiency a year ago.

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