Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn Named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year | Zagsblog
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Thursday / December 9.
  • Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn Named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year

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    Illinois junior center Kofi Cockburn has been named the 2021-22 Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year as chosen by a select media panel, the conference office announced Wednesday. A first-team All-Big Ten honoree in 2020-21, Cockburn was the only player in the country last season to average at least 15 points and nine rebounds while shooting at least 60 percent.

    The 6-foot-11 big man considered entering the NBA Draft, but opted to return after getting feedback from NBA personnel.

    “This is a double win for Illinois,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla told ZAGSBLOG this summer. “Getting Kofi back after losing guys to the NBA AND transfers means he’ll get to handle double the work load offensively. That will help the Illini this year and help his pro career.”


     
    The media also selected an 11-member Preseason All-Big Ten Team, with eight conference programs represented.
     
    Cockburn, along with Indiana junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, Michigan sophomore center Hunter Dickinson, Ohio State junior forward E.J. Liddell and Purdue sophomore guard Jaden Ivey, were unanimous selections to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Illinois sophomore guard Andre Curbelo, Iowa sophomore forward Keegan Murray, Maryland senior guard Eric Ayala, Michigan freshman guard/forward Caleb Houstan, Purdue senior forward Trevion Williams and Rutgers senior guard/forward Ron Harper Jr. also earned preseason accolades.
     
    Cockburn, Jackson-Davis, Dickinson, Liddell and Williams earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2020-21, while Harper Jr. was a third-team selection and Ayala was named honorable mention. Curbelo was tabbed the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year in 2020-21 and Dickinson claimed Freshman of the Year honors. Curbelo and Dickinson were joined on last year’s Big Ten All-Freshman Team by Murray and Ivey.
     
    The 2021-22 Preseason All-Big Ten Team is as follows:
     
    2021-22 PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN TEAM*
    KOFI COCKBURN, JR., C, ILLINOIS
    Andre Curbelo, So., G, Illinois
    TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS, JR., F, INDIANA
    Keegan Murray, So., F, Iowa
    Eric Ayala, Sr., G, Maryland
    HUNTER DICKINSON, SO., C, MICHIGAN
    Caleb Houstan, Fr., G/F, Michigan
    E.J. LIDDELL, JR., F, OHIO STATE
    JADEN IVEY, SO., G, PURDUE
    Trevion Williams, Sr., F, Purdue
    Ron Harper Jr., Sr., G/F, Rutgers
     
    2021-22 BIG TEN PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
    Kofi Cockburn, Jr., C, Illinois

    (Release via Big Ten)

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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.