Kofi Cockburn is one of the top big men in the class of 2019, but he won’t be picking the Kentucky Wildcats.
According to Andrew Slater, Cockburn has trimmed his list to eight schools, and Kentucky is not among them. Among the schools that did make the cut were the LSU Tigers, Florida Gators and Kansas Jayhawks.
There are a lot of bigs on Kentucky’s radar in the class of 2019, including James Wiseman, Vernon Carey, and Oscar Tshiebwe. I would lean to say that Wiseman and Carey would be the priority options if John Calipari had his way.
But there will seemingly be a lot of room for frontcourt players on next year’s team. Reid Travis will be gone, P.J. Washington will be gone barring any unforeseen circumstances, and the way Nick Richards looked in the Bahamas, he will likely be gone also. So that opens up some space, even though it was unlikely that UK signed Wiseman/Carey and Cockburn.
I am not sure Cockburn fits the typical mold of a Kentucky big man. He seems more comfortable in a slower environment where he can play with his back to the basket. I am not saying that he couldn’t play at UK, but initially I am not sure it would be a great fit for him.
Cockburn is ranked as the 31st-best player overall and ninth-best center, according to 247 Sports Composite. Cockburn may also be the largest prospect of all the bigs, he stands at an enormous 6’10 and about 255 pounds. The kid is a complete monster and is only going to get stronger as he continues to mature.
While he won’t end up at Kentucky, Cockburn does have one of the most interesting backgrounds of any Class of 2019 recruit. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and as far as basketball goes, it was not love at first sight.
Cockburn had no real experience playing basketball, yet he left his home country and traveled to the United States and enrolled at Christ of King High School in New York. This is one of the most prolific basketball schools in not only the northeast, but in the entire country. By his own admission, Cockburn was not the most skilled player when he arrived at Christ of King.
The nerves eventually settled down, and Cockburn went on to have a great career at Christ of King. His stock has been on the rise so much that he announced his plans to join another Kentucky recruit, Cole Anthony, at Oak Hill Academy for his senior year of high school.
Playing at Oak Hill is going to create additional positive exposure for Cockburn, playing a national schedule will accelerate his development, as well. Teaming up with arguably the best player in the class of 2019 in Anthony can’t do anything but help Cockburn as well.
The quote below is from long time Oak Hill Academy coach, Steve Smith, and it really sums up the type of player that Kofi Cockburn wants to be. Here is what Smith, told USA Today’s Jordan Jones.
“Kofi’s a throwback in that he knows he’s a center and wants to be a center” Smith said. “He’s just a worker and he wants to be in the paint. Guys these days don’t even want to be labeled a center, but he knows who he is and he wants to be that best at that.”
Cockburn is a true center and embraces it. Nowadays, players want to step outside and show they can do other things. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Cockburn, he is happy to play the role of a punisher in the paint. The best player comparison I can think of is Kansas star Udoka Azubuike. Both players are not shy to bang in the paint and understand where their strengths are.
Cockburn averaged 15 points and about 9 rebounds on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer. Joining forces with Cole Anthony should only improve his stats this season.