Kofi Cockburn: “can’t we all agree that racism is a nasty thing?”

Sophomore Illini Center Kofi Cockburn met the media this morning, via Zoom, wearing a t-shirt that read “More than an Athlete.” It perfectly summated both he himself, and the theme of the session. Jumping straight into Q&A, he gave a lot of honest and open answers in response to plenty of uncomfortable questions.

At no point was he visibly uncomfortable or annoyed, during the 50 minute Zoom call. The star big man recognizes the very large platform he has as an Illini basketball star, and all the influence that comes with it. 

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With Ayo Dosunmu Returning, Illini Could be Top 10 if Kofi Cockburn Also Returns

(UPDATE: Aug 1, 2020- Kofi Cockburn announced he was returning to school just a few hours after this was written and posted)

Ayo Dosnumo, the Illinois Fighting Illini’s best player, announced late last night that he’s returning to school for his junior season. Some saw this as a surprising move, but those are people who aren’t paying close enough attention. Ayo made a smart decision, one that benefits both him and the program.

His NBA Draft stock just isn’t really high enough now for him to bolt, but if continues his development trajectory this season, he could be a lottery pick next in 2021. That is provided of course, we actually have a college basketball season in 2020-21.

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Lou Henson, Godfather of Modern Illini Athletics, Passes Away

lou henson

Lou Henson was the El Pedrino, “The Godfather,” of modern University of Illinois athletics. If you’re a generation X or younger Illini, then you already know how Henson is the Illini legend of all legends in modern sports. Sadly, we lost the Godfather today, as he passed away at the age of 88.

A private graveside service was held with family members earlier today (Wednesday) in Champaign. “It is a sad day for the Illinois Basketball family and Illini Nation as we mourn the passing of Lou Henson, the greatest coach in our program’s proud history,” reads a statement attributed to Illinois Basketball Coach Brad Underwood.

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Lovie Smith: “systemic racism exists in our world”

Illinois Football coach Lovie Smith and Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher are good friends, dating back to their days together with the Monsters of the Midway. A few days ago, Urlacher gave his take on the current state of affairs in this nation.

It was lacking to say the least, and it conveyed just how much #54 doesn’t get it. He needs to listen to his friend Lovie Smith, who appeared on NBC Sports Network’s Lunch Talk Live with Mike Tirico today, where discusssed racial injustice in America.

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Revisiting Illini vs Northwestern 1 End Zone Only Game at Wrigley Field

Wrigley_field-endzone

“One way, or another, I’m gonna find you!” Blondie told us in the early 1980s. On one Saturday, late in November of 2010, these words applied to a Big Ten college football game. It was more than a Big Ten league game, it was branded the Wrigleyville Classic, and it hosted ESPN College Gameday.

It was an in-state rivalry game as Northwestern “hosted” their arch-rivals, Illinois. Oh, and there was only one end zone in use that day. Yes, both sides have to drive towards the west end zone. No one could head towards the east due to safety precautions. How did this happen? Why?

wrigley-field-press-box

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Jaguars, Illini Legend Kevin Hardy on NFL Draft Past and Present

NFL Draft week is here, and with it, we conversed with a man who knows it well- Kevin Hardy. The man who was rated the #15 best Jacksonville Jaguars player of all time by the club website, discussed the NFL Draft- how it’s grown, what his experience was like, and what the event will be like this week, as the current pandemic has forced it into a very different format.

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Mavericks, Illini Legend Derek Harper on Friendship with Mark Cuban

The Wikipedia page of Derek Harper describes him as one of the best players never to have made an All-Star Game. After being named to the University of Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame this week, the legendary former Illini did a teleconference call with the media.

He was asked what he believes his legacy will be, and he responded by saying he really doesn’t think too much about it, but he also offered this very substantive answer: “I think people will remember Derek Harper because he left it on the floor every single night.”

“Played with a passion, tough-minded…I gave the game every breath I had. To me, that’s enough.”

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Illini Basketball: Five Players Deserving of UI Athletics Hall of Fame

kiwane-garris

The Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Class for 2020 was announced earlier today and it includes athletes and coaches from nine different sports. It’s only the fourth such class in U of I sports history and when you look at the full class, aggregated with the previous three, you still have some names missing.

(And we covered who should be next to get in, from football, in this post). What’s the most glaring omission from Illini basketball (on the men’s side)? Well, we’d argue any of the five below on this list…

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Illini Football: Five Players Deserving of UI Athletics Hall of Fame

jack trudeau illini football

The Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Class for 2020 was announced earlier today and it includes athletes and coaches from nine different sports. It’s only the fourth such class in U of I sports history and when you look at the full class, aggregated with the previous three, you still have some names missing.

(And we covered who should be next to get in, from men’s basketball, in this post). What’s the most glaring omission? Still not a single quarterback in the hall yet. It’s only the single most individual position in all of team sports. Plus the Illini had a dominant run of signal callers in the 1980s.

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Illini Center Kofi Cockburn Announces Entry into NBA Draft

Illinois Fighting Illini Center Kofi Cockburn announced, just minutes ago via his Instagram page, his early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft. It is unclear, given the text of the message he posted, whether he is just testing the waters or not.

The message says nothing about hiring an agent, which is the determining factor for whether or not he can return to school for his sophomore season. If he has representation, then his college career is over. If not, then he can come back to Champaign next year, and even go through this process after his next two seasons, if he so desires. See his IG posting below:

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New Illini Athletics HOF Class Announced; Still No Quarterbacks

Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke, 1995 Butkus Award winner Kevin Hardy and long-time NBA star Derek Harper headline 15-person Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Class for 2020. The class, which was announced just minutes ago, includes athletes and coaches from nine different sports and covers athletes from 1901 through 2013.

It’s only the fourth such class in Illini athletics history and when you look at the full class, aggregated with the previous three, you have plenty of snubs to point out. (And we’ll do that in another post shortly). What’s most glaring here? Still not a single quarterback in the hall yet.

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Dee Brown Retains Asst. Position Under New Coach at UIC

dee brown

Despite the change in leadership at UIC, Illinois Fighting Illini legend Dee Brown will remain on board as an assistant coach. Luke Yaklich, announced last week as the Flames new head coach, has formalized his staff, and it includes Brown, Will Veasley and Brock Erickson.

Yaklich, a former Texas and Michigan assistant, takes over for Steve McClain, who was dismissed on March 13, after leading the program for five seasons.

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