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CHAMPAIGN — Illinois men's basketball fans waited, some impatiently, nearly a week for good news on the recruiting front in the spring signing period. They got it Tuesday night.
Kofi Cockburn became the first official member of Illinois' 2019 recruiting class when he announced on Twitter he had signed his National Letter of Intent. The 7-foot, 290-pound center will fill a position of need for the Illini in the 2019-20 season. Illinois confrimed Cockburn's addition to the team Wednesday morning.
"Kofi is a difference maker," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said in a release. "It is rare that you see a young man with his size who also has great athleticism and agility. He has a unique skill set to go along with his 7-foot, 290-pound frame in that he moves really well and is a good passer. With his size, ability to finish, and rebounding power, Kofi will impact the game on both ends of the floor."
It's officially official, @kxng_alpha is an #Illini! #EveryDayGuys pic.twitter.com/GdN65PCONh
— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) April 24, 2019
Cockburn finished his high school career this past season at Oak Hill Academy (Va.) after previously playing at New York City powerhouse Christ The King. Cockburn helped the Warriors reach the semifinals of the GEICO High School Nationals and averaged 14.8 points on 62 percent shooting. He also put up 10.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
Frontcourt depth was a priority for Illinois in the 2019 class, and Cockburn certainly addresses that need. The Illini are also waiting on a signed letter of intent from unranked 6-10 power forward Bernard Kouma. His commitment earlier this month seemed to preempt a signing from four-star center Antwan January, who committed in November but played in just a couple games this past season for Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix.
Should Illinois ultimately sign just Kouma, that would still leave a scholarship open for the 2019-20 roster. The Illini hosted junior college All-American guard Tomas Woldetensae for an official visit this past weekend and are also in the mix for Stephen F. Austin graduate transfer forward T.J. Holyfield.