College/Prep Sports Reporter

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

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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:

Episode 167: Pursuing new options

Odds are Illinois will have a Kofi Cockburn-sized sized in its rotation come the 2022-23 season. Cockburn could always return to Champaign for a fourth season, but that would seem to be a longshot projecting the Illinois roster out into the future.

Potentially filling that 7-foot, 295-pound hole? How about a 7-foot, 265-pound freshman? Class of 2022 center Christ Essandoko trimmed his list of college basketball destinations to seven Wednesday and included Illinois along with Seton Hall, Georgetown, Maryland, Providence, North Carolina State and Oral Roberts. Of his top seven, Oral Roberts has recruited him the longest with an offer dating back to late August 2020.

Essandoko is a three-star center originally from France and now playing at Winston Salem Christian (N.C.). Illinois is still in the hunt for a big man in the Class of 2022 after Texan Cameron Corhen committed to Florida State. The Illini offered Essandoko in early June when his recruitment blew up playing for Team Curry in the Under Armour Association where he averaged 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 12 games. 

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

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