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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Saturday / December 15.
  • Class of 2019 big man Kofi Cockburn drawing big-time interest, remains open in recruitment

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    Kofi Cockburn, the 6-foot-11, 280-pound junior big man from Christ the King High School, continues to draw high-major interest but remains open in his recruitment at this stage.

    Big East schools St. John’s and Georgetown are among those working especially hard, but national powers like Duke, Kentucky and Kansas, as well as schools such as Indiana, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Florida State and Ohio State are also involved for Cockburn, ranked No. 34 on the ESPN 2019 60.

    “He’s very open,” New York Rens coach Karriem Memminger, one of Cockburn’s mentors along with Steve Johnson, told ZAGSBLOG. “He has interest from Duke, Kansas and Kentucky. None of them have offered yet but he has interest there. He’s very open to all schools.”

    St. John’s and Georgetown, coached by NBA legends Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing, respectively, are among the schools working hardest. Those schools square off on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

    “The school that’s showing me the most interest is St. John’s,” Cockburn said of the local school he recently visited for the Big East opener against Providence along with other recruits, including fellow Class of 2019 guys Aidan Igiehon and Posh Alexander.

    “They just want to make the program better. They want to get the guys places. It’s a nice environment.”

    Memminger also listed Georgetown as the school “recruiting him the hardest, too.”

    “Pat was a big guy and he tells me he knows the importance of the big guy getting the ball,” Memminger said of Ewing, the first-year Hoyas coach. “They make sure [New York native] Jessie Govan gets the ball. They play inside/out.”

    Like Ewing, Cockburn is a native of Jamaica. He was born there and only began playing basketball seriously about three and a half years ago.

    “I always heard about him in Jamaica and stuff,” Cockburn said of Ewing. “If you’re Jamaican, basketball isn’t your first sport, it’s normally soccer.”

    Asked what Ewing’s message is, he said, “I’ll see the footwork and he’s got great footwork. And that’s one of my strengths. I work on my low post moves. He just wants to get me better. He wants to improve me in basketball and help to get everyone better.”

    For the moment, Cockburn is focusing primarily on his season with Christ the King, which has two big games this weekend.

    On Saturday, the Royals face St. Joe’s-Metuchen (N.J.) in the Shooting Stars Showcase on Long Island.

    On Sunday, Christ the Kings hosts the Apparel Challenge featuring the Royals against Chaminade. The event also features several other New York-area teams among the best nationally, including Archbishop Molloy, Archbishop Stepinac and Long Island Lutheran.

    Some college coaches will likely be on hand for the events, but Cockburn isn’t focused on that right now.

    “He’s just concentrating on getting better in his season,” Memminger said. “We’re not too caught up in his recruitment. That’s going to take it’s toll after the season. Right now we just got him concentrating on getting better this season. Maybe in March we’ll start paying some schools some attention and who’s going to coach him the hardest.”

    In the moment, Cockburn wants to continue to develop, especially on the defensive end.

    “I’m a team-player first,” he said. “I try to get my guys better. I got good footwork, low post moves, I pass the ball well. I can shoot the mid-range, a little bit of everything. I want to work on my rebounding and shot-blocking, my defensive skills.”

    Looking forward, Memminger says Cockburn has the tools to be similar to an Andre Drummond or DeMarcus Cousins.

    “A lot of people compare him to Andre Drummond,” Memminger said. “Kofi likes the comparison of DeMarcus Cousins. He can do a lot of things that people are going to see. I like those two comparisons. You can’t go wrong being compared to Andre Drummond or DeMarcus Cousins.”

    ***

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.