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).

Kofi Cockburn
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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 120: Practice starts this week

Illinois sophomore center Kofi Cockburn spent part of this summer fine tuning his jump shot. The Illini 7-footer did most of his damage around the rim during his freshman season. Being able to stretch the floor — even if that only means mid-range jumpers — is really just a natural evolution of his game. It will also help him in his pursuit to play at the next level.

Cockburn's range does, however, now reach beyond the three-point line. He's already said he's not going to abandon his ability to dominate the low post to hang out on the perimeter. He knows where he has an advantage. Adding a reliable three-point shot to his repertoire was meant to be an added bonus to his game. One used sparingly.

Which is good. Because that's probably all the opportunity he'll get from Illinois coach Brad Underwood. A green light from deep for the Illini big man?

"No," Underwood said rather matter of factly. "He might get one a game up. He's been out there working on them — and he is a good shooter, he's got great touch — but I wouldn't say I wouldn't let him fling one up there. He's worked really hard at it. There's no doubt.

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

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