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).

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Will he stay or will he go? It’s time to find out, with Illinois center Kofi Cockburn, left, announcing his decision regarding the NBA on Wednesday.

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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:

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The one thing that made the Utah Jazz the potential best fit for Kofi Cockburn remains true. Even after a change in management (Danny Ainge taking over), the organization still appears committed to large human beings.

Rudy Gobert has been traded, but Utah picked up 2022 first round pick Walker Kessler (7-foot-1, 245 pounds) in the deal. Udoka Azubuike (7-0, 270) also remains on the roster.

Then there's Utah's Summer League team. Not only will the Jazz boast undrafted free agent Kofi Cockburn (7-0, 293), but they've added Tacko Fall (7-6, 311) to the mix, too. Fall, of course, has a connection to Ainge with his time with the Boston Celtics.

Kessler, though, is the potential roadblock between Cockburn and the NBA. The former Auburn standout has a guaranteed contract as a first round pick. He also has two things Cockburn currently doesn't in elite shot blocker status (blocked 4.6 shots per game for the Tigers last season) and a (not yet fully realized) ability to stretch the floor after making 10 of 50 threes in 2021-22. Kessler isn't currently on Utah's Summer League roster after being part of the Gobert trade to Minneapolis.

So Cockburn, who is on a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 contract, has a shot to prove his worth to the Jazz this month. Utah will compete in its own Summer League precursor July 5-7 in Salt Lake City and then the full Summer League in Las Vegas from July 7-17. 

Utah's schedule for Salt Lake City is as follows:

July 5 — Jazz vs. Thunder, 8 p.m., ESPN

July 6 — Jazz vs. 76ers, 8 p.m., ESPN2

July 7 — Jazz vs. Grizzlies, 7 p.m., NBATV

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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