Illinois will have its two stars back on the court in orange and blue next season.
A day after guard Ayo Dosunmu announced he will return to Illinois for his junior year and bypass the NBA draft, Kofi Cockburn followed suit. The 7-footer will play his sophomore for the Illini in 2020-21, keeping the team dynamic duo from last season intact.
“IM BACK!!” Cockburn announced in a tweet Saturday afternoon.
Cockburn took the Big Ten by storm in his first year with Illinois, averaging 13.3 points and 8.8 rebounds and posting 12 double-doubles. He was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year.
Kockburn’s performance helped raise the profile of a team that struggled through much of 2018-19. With Cockburn and Dosunmu leading the way, Illinois improved to 21-10 and were poised to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years before their season ended because of the coronavirus outbreak.
It appeared Illinois would need to rebuild again as Cockburn and Dosunmu became NBA prospects. Both declared for the NBA draft and sent out messages to Illinois fans in April.
But they both reversed course within hours of one another, making the Illini a contender in the Big Ten and beyond.
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