Fighting Illini junior center Kofi Cockburn has been named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, as voted on by a media panel covering the league and announced Wednesday by the conference office. In addition, Cockburn and sophomore point guard Andre Curbelo have both been named to the 10-player Preseason All-Big Ten Team (11 this year due to ties), with Cockburn a unanimous selection.
Cockburn is the first Illini to be voted Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year since Dee Brown in 2005 prior to his senior season.
This is the second year in a row that Illinois has two players on the Preseason All-Big Ten Team, following Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu last season.
These are the latest accolades for the pair of Illini standouts. A national player of the year candidate, Cockburn is an AP Preseason All-America Team selection, on the watch list for the Kareem Adbul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award, a preseason first-team All-America pick by CBS Sports, Blue Ribbon Yearbook, Athlon Sports, College Hoops Today and Dick Vitale, and Big Ten Player of the Year choice by The Athletic, Blue Ribbon and Lindy’s.
Curbelo is on the watch list for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award, a first-team All-America selection by Field of 68’s Jeff Goodman, the No. 3 ranked guard in the country by The Athletic’s C.J. Moore, a third-team All-America pick by College Hoops Today’s Jon Rothstein, and fourth-team All-America choice by ESPN’s Dick Vitale.
2021-22 Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year
Kofi Cockburn, Jr., C, Illinois
2021-22 Preseason All-Big Ten Team (unanimous in CAPS)
KOFI COCKBURN, JR., C, ILLINOIS
Andre Curbelo, So., G, Illinois
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS, JR., F, INDIANA
Keegan Murray, So., F, Iowa
Eric Ayala, Sr., G, Maryland
HUNTER DICKINSON, SO., C, MICHIGAN
Caleb Houstan, Fr., G/F, Michigan
E.J. LIDDELL, JR., F, OHIO STATE
JADEN IVEY, SO., G, PURDUE
Trevion Williams, Sr., F, Purdue
Ron Harper Jr., Sr., G/F, Rutgers
KOFI COCKBURN | 2020-21 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
- NCAA Consensus Second-Team All-American
- Only player in the NCAA to average 15+ points and 9+ rebounds while shooting at least 60%
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Finalist
- Wooden Award All-American Team
- Second-Team All-American by Associated Press, NABC, USBWA, Sporting News, CBS Sports and USA Today
- No. 7 in final kenpom.com National Player of the Year standings
- Third nationally with 16 double-doubles
- Fourth in the NCAA in field goal percentage at 65.4% (214-327)
- Led the nation with 78 dunks
- Fifth in Big Ten in scoring (17.7 ppg)
- First in B1G and 24th in NCAA in rebounding (9.5 rpg)
I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.