Brad Underwood says Kofi Cockburn the 'most abused player' in college basketball
The way teams are starting to play against Kofi Cockburn is really beginning to frustrate the 7-foot Illinois center. It’s also not sitting well with Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood.
B1G teams are getting more physical with the Illinois big man and it boiled over into a technical foul in Thursday’s game between Nebraska and the Fighting Illini. Cockburn and Lat Mayen had a short interaction that resulted in both players being assessed technical fouls.
Cockburn went on to have a strong performance, scoring 24 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in Illinois’ 86-70 win over Nebraska. But during his Friday presser, Underwood stood up for his center, saying he understands the frustration.
“I think his technical tonight was probably a level of frustration that was a carryover from the last game,” Underwood said, per Jeremy Werner of Illini Inquirer. “Kofi doesn’t do that. That’s not Kofi. That’s when I know there’s tremendous frustration on his part. He’s the most abused player in college basketball. It’s not even close. We go through this thing every day, and we look at stuff. Because he doesn’t flop, because he doesn’t wail away with his arms and fall down. My goodness [Penn State’s] Myles Dread dislocated a shoulder taking a swing at him, and Kofi never flinched. There becomes a level of frustration.”
On Friday, Cockburn was named one of five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. He was one of three B1G candidates on the list.
This season, Cockburn is averaging a double-double, scoring 17.7 points and grabbing 10 rebounds per game. The Illini are back in action on Saturday, traveling to No. 23 Wisconsin before trips to No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State to end the year.