CHAMPAIGN – Twice before he’s flirted with the idea of becoming a professional basketball player, but the third time appears to be permanent for one of the best centers in Illinois basketball history.

On his Twitter account Wednesday morning, Kofi Cockburn announced that he’s leaving the Illini basketball program and entering the 2022 NBA Draft. In the announcement, he said that he plans to hire an agent, which means that his time in college basketball is over.

“This journey has been a very special one. Never did I ever imagine being a part of something so fun and extraordinary,” wrote Cockburn on social media. “So many people to thank but I don’t know where to start, so many wonderful memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.”

Cockburn leaves Champaign after three memorable seasons in which he aided the program’s return to the top of the Big Ten. In 90 games for the Illini, he averaged 17.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game and helped the team to what would have been three NCAA Tournaments.

Illinois was expected to be selected for the 2020 tourney before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the 2020-2021 season, Cockburn was a consensus second-team All-American as he averaged 17.2 points and 9.5 rebounds a contest. The Illini captured their first Big Ten tournament championship and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005.

For a second-straight year, Cockburn withdrew his name from the NBA Draft to return to Champaign and enjoyed his finest season yet of his basketball career. He averaged 20.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per contest and was named a consensus first-team All-American.

The center’s efforts helped Illinois to a share of their first Big Ten regular season championship since 2005 and a second-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.