Kofi Cockburn

Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette

Kofi Cockburn is averaging a double-double through his first three games at Illinois heading into Monday night's home game with Hawaii.

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CHAMPAIGN — July ended with good news for the Illinois men's basketball team, and August started with more of the same. Not even 24 hours after All-Big Ten guard Ayo Dosunmu announced his return for the 2020-21 season, reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Kofi Cockburn did the same Saturday afternoon.

Cockburn had a breakout freshman season at Illinois, claiming the Big Ten's top honor for first-year players after averaging 13.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The 7-foot, 290-pound center finished his debut season with 12 double-doubles — ranking fifth among all freshmen nationally and doubling the previous Illinois single-season freshman record.

Cockburn declared for the 2020 NBA draft on April 7 and had until Monday's NCAA-mandated deadline to make his decision whether to stay in or return to Illinois for his sophomore season. Friday night's surprise from Dosunmu, who repeatedly said his focus was on his professional future, paved the way for Cockburn's similar choice Saturday.  

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).