Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:
We’re still in the early days of name, image and likeness — a story that continues to generate headlines across college athletics. But the biggest story in college basketball? Hard to argue it’s not the ongoing saga of Kofi Cockburn.
The former (technically) and maybe future Illinois center is the biggest name currently in the transfer portal. Had he entered the portal before the last minute, Cockburn still would have been the biggest name available on the transfer market. Simply put, players that have already earned All-American honors don’t transfer.
Except now Cockburn very well might. The door isn’t shut for a return to the Illini, but he’s already admitted Kentucky is a legitimate option. And other coaches across the country would be foolish to not shoot their shot. The NBA might not have a perfect landing spot for Cockburn, but he can dominate college basketball.
CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander weighed in on the Cockburn situation in the latest episode of his “Eye on College Basketball” podcast with Gary Parrish.
The latest @EyeOnCBBPodcast with @GaryParrishCBS & @MattNorlander.OPEN: Johnny Juzang is returning to UCLA.24:00: Thoughts on other key draft withdrawals — and what a Preseason All-American Team might look like now.LISTEN: https://t.co/SC2X0fNuaQ— Eye On College Basketball Podcast (@EyeOnCBBPodcast) July 8, 2021
“Completely fascinating decision because he well could be a top five player in the sport next season if he lands in the right spot and continues to produce,” Norlander said. “Plenty of interesting ‘in the portal’ decisions, but, to me, none bigger and more intriguing than what happens with Cockburn and whether or not he returns to Champaign, goes to Lexington or somewhere else.”