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CHAMPAIGN – For a second-straight season, one of Illinois’ best players is going to see what professional basketball might have in store for him while also keeping open the shot at a return to Champaign.

Through his Twitter and Instagram pages, center Kofi Cockburn announced his intention to enter the 2021 NBA Draft. In his statement, however, the center didn’t say that he was hiring an agent, leaving open the possibility of a return to the Illini for the 2021-2022 season.

Cockburn can take part in the NBA Draft Combine from June 21-27 then wait until as late as July 19th to either keep his name in or take it out for consideration. The 2021 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, July 29th.

At the end of the pandemic-shortened 2019-2020 season, Cockburn put his name in for the NBA Draft but ultimately decided to return for his sophomore year along with guard Ayo Dosunmu. It would turn out to be a memorable season for both players as they helped the Illini to their first NCAA Tournament in eight years along with the first No. 1 seed in 16 seasons.

A first-team All-Big Ten selection and second-team All-American, Cockburn averaged 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds a game to go with 40 blocks in 31 starts.