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.
By ADAM ZAGORIAKofi Cockburn enjoyed his weekend official visit to Illinois and feels they are prioritizing him in a big way.
“It was good, it was really good,” the 6-foot-11, 290-pound Oak Hill Academy (VA) Class of 2019 big man said Tuesday by phone. “I toured the campus and met the athletic director and everybody.”
“They’re looking for me to come in and start and be one of their main guys. There’s playing time for me and they showed how they can get me better.”
Cockburn spent time with freshman Alan Griffin, who played at Archbishop Stepinac High School and on the NY Rens.
Cockburn’s mentor, Karriem Memminger, accompanied him on the visit and said he was impressed with Illinois’ commitment. He is being recruited by head coach Brad Underwood and assistant Orlando Antigua.
“We watched the game and there’s a desperate need for him,” Memminger said of the 73-71 loss to Florida Altantic. “They need a big guy that can score in the post and can come in and contribute and help them right away. We saw by watching the game they played, there’s a need for him right away.
“And especially that confidence playing in that Big Ten, playing against Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin. That’s a big-boy kind of conference. We saw that Brad Underwood can coach, he knows what he’s doing.
“And they recruited the crap out of him. They’ve been at every single one of his games. They’ve been down at Oak Hil, they’ve been at all his AAU games. They really, really recruited him. They really showed that they wanted him. And it’s like I told Kofi, always look at who really wants you, not who you want.”
He added: “He likes them a lot, he likes them a lot.”
Cockburn has a final five of UConn, St. John’s, Kansas, Illinois and Pittsburgh, but Memminger said other schools are also getting involved, including N.C. State.
“We may look at a visit out to Pittsburgh, a visit out to St. John’s,” Memminger said.
As for N.C. State, head coach Kevin Keatts has visited Oak Hill and spoke with head coach Steve Smith about getting involved.
“There’s been some communication with N.C. State the last few days,” Memminger said. “Head coach Kevin Keatts reached out to me in reference to him taking a visit to campus. They just didn’t realize they can get him. He’s been at their practices and so they reached out to me.”
As for St. John’s, they just landed a commit from junior college big man Valdir Manuel and may no longer be pursuing Cockburn as hard.
“Haven’t talked to them in the last few days,” Memminger said. “I have to have a conversation with coach Matt [Abdelmassih]. I haven’t talked to St. John’s in the last few days.”
As for Kansas, he said, “I’m not really hearing from Kansas.”
As for UConn, he said he was hearing from them. “Of course.”
Cockburn will take a few more visits and is eyeing the spring signing period.
“Basically, he’s going to take a few more visits and be looking to commit during the signing period in April,” Memminger said.
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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.