Kofi Cockburn

Kofi Cockburn

The worst kept secret in basketball recently was the announcement of center Kofi Cockburn of Mouth of Wilson, Va., Oak Hill Academy committing to play for Illinois on Sunday.

After a heart-wrenching, 68-66 loss to cross-state rival Northwestern, Illinois finally got its big man.

Cockburn a five-star center picked Illinois over Kansas, Connecticut, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Oregon, St. John’s and UCLA. Illinois has missed on several big men in the past, but assistant coach Orlando Antigua put in a massive amount of work on Cockburn, letting him know when he arrives on campus the paint is his to roam.

The 6-foot-10, 280-pound commit announced through Twitter his commitment and why he picked the Illini: I’m excited about joining the family (Illinois). No one has worked harder than Coach Underwood and his staff. They have great fans and support. They’re building it in the right way with a good young core. The visit was a great one, I really enjoyed the guys on the team and the culture.”

Cockburn is a big man — finding a former Illini to compare him to is merely impossible. His size could make Illinois an instant contender.

What does he bring to the table? Illinois fans can expect to see this: scores, block shots and no longer will fans watch a big man make layups. Cockburn was quoted once, saying “Why finesse layups when you can break rims.”

“I’m ready to compete as soon as I step on campus,” Cockburn said. “He (Underwood) and I want that challenge of bringing back Illinois to winning championships! I’m looking forward to recruiting other players to come to Illinois with me.”

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