By ADAM ZAGORIA
llinois big man Kofi Cockburn is poised to announce his future plans on Friday, and Illini fans are waiting with bated breath.
His camp had initially said Cockburn planned to remain in the NBA Draft but he is not projected to be drafted and his plans soon changed. After withdrawing from the Draft ahead of the July 7 deadline, the 7-foot Cockburn is expected to choose between Florida State, Kentucky and returning to Illinois for his junior season.
Multiple reports Wednesday indicated Kentucky is no longer in play for Cockburn, who played at Christ the King in New York and Oak Hill Academy (VA) before committing to Illinois.
The Wildcats added former Illinois assistants Orlando Antigua and Ron “Chin” Coleman but have a big man in West Virginia transfer Oscar Tschiebwe and are said to focusing in on adding Montverde big man Jalen Duren, who is considering Kentucky, Miami, Memphis, the NBA G League and the Australian NBL. ZAGSBLOG first reported the 6-10 Duren is expected to reclassify into the Class of 2021 from ’22.
“I had the chance to learn about the [Kentucky] program,” Duren said after his recent visit. “Talking to Coach [John] Calipari and Bruiser Flint for the first time was amazing. They can develop me and learning about the history of the program was great. It was my first time in Kentucky so seeing a lot of it was terrific.”
Florida State lost Scottie Barnes and Balsa Koprivica to the NBA Draft, but added Kentucky transfer Cam’Ron Fletcher and a strong recruiting class featuring Jalen Warley, John Butler and JUCO big man Naheem McLeod. A surprise move by Cockburn to FSU would give Leonard Hamilton’s team a major force down low in the ACC
For Illinois, the return of Cockburn would be huge after he averaged 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds last season en route to First-Team All-Big Ten honors. The Illini lost Ayo Dosunmu to the NBA Draft but having Cockburn back would give them one of the top returning players in the nation.
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