If Kentucky misses out on Jalen Duren, there may now be as good of a fallback option as one could hope for.
According to Andrew Slater, Illinois center Kofi Cockburn has entered the transfer portal while also continuing to test the NBA Draft waters. Cockburn has until July 7th to pull out of the draft and potentially find a new school.
7’ Kofi Cockburn, who was a 2nd-team All-American & 1st-team All-Big 10, will enter the transfer portal, while keeping his name in the NBA Draft. @kxng_alpha , who averaged 17.7 points & 9.5 rebounds this season, is exploring all options. He can instantly elevate any program. pic.twitter.com/a9VYNiWPlp— ℯ ℯ (@Andrew__Slater) July 1, 2021
There’s already a connection to Kentucky through new assistants Orlando Antigua and Chin Coleman, both of whom were at Illinois for Cockburn’s two years in Champaign. And that’s not accounting for Kentucky having already recruited Cockburn when he was a four-star Class of 2019 recruit, though he was never offered a scholarship.
There’s also this from the fine folks at Cats Illustrated.
Fwiw @TravisGraf_ posted the first Cockburn to UK smoke signal waaaaaaaay back on May 1st. Did not seem likely at the time....— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) July 1, 2021
And FOX Sports’ Aaron Torres.
Little college hoops note: I've texted with probably half a dozen high major assistants since Kofi Cockburn went into the transfer portal. Many, who recruit aggressively in the portal. Every single one believes Kofi will ultimately end up at Kentucky if he comes back to college— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) July 1, 2021
In 31 games played this past season, the 7-foot, 285-pound Cockburn averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots. He was the only player in America to average at least 15 points and nine rebounds while shooting 60% from the field.
For his efforts, Cockburn was named a Second-Team All-American. He was not invited to the NBA Combine but did attend the NBA G-League Elite Camp. He’s currently projected in the late second round/undrafted range, so perhaps another year of college combined with the possible money-making opportunities from NIL is in the cards for the Jamaican big man.
It’s unclear if Cockburn is a legitimate option for Kentucky at this time. John Calipari is focused on what Jalen Duren does, but if he lands elsewhere, perhaps Cockburn will be an option, though he obviously has to withdraw from the draft first. He’s still testing the waters, so it’s possible he remains in the draft and ends his college eligibility.
Hopefully, Duren’s decision comes soon if it’s not in favor of Kentucky so the staff can focus on Cockburn if they think he’ll be a good fit.
While the 2021 roster gets sorted out, one of the top Class of 2022 recruits has set a decision date.
Five-star forward Dariq Whitehead will make his college choice on August 1st.
August 1st commitment day‼️ pic.twitter.com/GZsKdsSYuv— Dariq whitehead (@dariq_whitehead) July 1, 2021
The 6-6, 190-pound Whitehead is ranked as the sixth-best recruit and third-best small forward in 2022 by 247 Sports Composite. Originally from Newark (NJ), Whitehead now plays at Montverde Academy (FL), where he’ll team up with Kentucky pledge Skyy Clark this fall.
Kentucky has been recruiting Whitehead, but there’s been no scholarship offered. He has also yet to visit the school.
Duke have been viewed as the favorite, and that belief was reinforced today with a flurry of 247 Crystal Ball and Rivals FutureCast picks logged for the Blue Devils. Texas, Georgia, Florida State, Auburn, Florida and Oklahoma State have also offered.
Unless there’s a drastic change in his recruitment, it looks like Duke will secure its first big-time recruit of the post-Coach K era, though the latter is obviously still there and undoubtedly helping sway Whitehead to Durham.