Jamaican-born basketball player Kofi Cockburn who plays for the University of Illinois has been named to the Associated Press (AP) All-America first team. He is the only player in the NCAA to average 20+ points and 10+ rebounds per game and is the first major conference player since 2018 to average at least 21 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Cockburn was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved to Queens, New York in 2014 to live with his mother, who had migrated to Queens in 2009. He attended Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, New York, where he played Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball with the New York Renaissance, known as the Rens. In the summer of 2018, he played with the Rends on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), averaging 16.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, and shooting 53.9 percent from the field. He was chosen to participate in the Basketball Without Borders Americas camp in Nassau, Bahamas, in 2017 prior to his junior year. Also in 2018, he was named to the World Team for the Nike Hoop Summit.
He transferred to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia for his senior year in high school. Before attending Oak Hill, he had 26 offers of scholarships, reducing the list of potential schools to 12, including Illinois, which he ultimately selected because of his relationship with Orlando Antigua and the coaching staff there.
Cockburn made 10 points and 11 rebounds in his debut appearance for Illinois. In his next game, he scored 23 points and had 14 rebounds. He was named Big Ten Player of the Week for setting a school freshman rebound record. At the completion of his first regular season, he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and chosen for the Third Team All-Big-Ten by the media. In his sophomore year, he averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. After the season, he declared for the NBA draft in 2021, returning to Illinois for his junior year. He scored a career-high of 38 points and 10 rebounds on November 26, 2021, against Texas-Rio Grande Valley for a 94-85 victory and was named to the First Team All-Big-Ten.
Cockburn’s career awards include being named to the consensus second-team All-American in 2021, AP First-team All-American in 2022, First-team All-Big-19 in 2021 and 2022, Big10 Freshman of the Year in 2020, and twice attending the Nike Hoop Summit in 2018 and 2019.