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No Surprises In Big Ten Basketball Preseason Honors List

The 2021-22 college basketball season officially tips off in under a week on November 9. With the season rapidly approaching, the Big Ten has officially announced their preseason all-conference player and team. Read on to find out who they are.

Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year: Kofi Cockburn

If there’s one name that stands out in Big Ten Basketball, it’s Kofi Cockburn of Illinois. The 7-foot, 285-pound center is back for another season after declaring his return for junior year. And without shock, he has been handed preseason Big Ten Player of the Year by a vote from the League Media Panel.

Cockburn is Illinois’ first Big Template Season Player of the Year since Dee Brown from the 2005-06 season. The 22-year-old is also an AP preseason All-American and on the Kareem Abdul Jabber Center of the Year Awards watchlist. 

One of the most dominant big men in Big Ten history, Cockburn led the Big Ten last year in effective field goal (eFG%) and true shooting (TS%) percentages. Cockburn took big strides in his sophomore season after averaging 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds in all 31 games. 

On the opposite end of the court, Kofi’s defensive skill set is arguably better than his offensive. An impossible player to score one, the big man has a career of 1.4 blocks per game. Last season, in the half-court game, he only allowed 93.5 points per 100 possessions. That was third in the Big Ten only to Big Ten DPOY Myles Johnson and Michigan’s Franz Wagner. In the last two years, Kofi has proven to be a well-rounded, efficient, and smart player, and he’ll only continue to develop his prowess.

Illinois is coming in hot with another loaded roster for 2021-22 that includes super seniors Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams, several transfers, and returning contributor in Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Andre Curbelo. With a promising and talented team, Cockburn looks forward to leading the program to another successful and historic season.

Unanimous all-conference preseason Big Ten team:

Kofi Cockburn, Jr., C, Illinois

Trayce Jackson-Davis, Jr., F, Indiana

Hunter Dickinson, So., C, Michigan

E.J. Liddell, Jr., F, Ohio State

Jaden Ivey, So., G, Purdue

Preseason men’s All-Big Ten Team (there are 11 players instead of 10 due to a tie):

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

All these prominent names have come up in recent history. Cockburn, Jackson-Davis, Dickinson, Liddell and Williams earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2020-21 and was one of five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award. Harper Jr. was a third-team selection and Ayala was named honorable mention. Curbelo was given the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year in 2020-21 and Dickinson claimed Freshman of the Year honors. Curbelo and Dickinson were joined on last year’s Big Ten All-Freshman Team by Murray and Ivey. 

With another exciting college basketball year shortly ahead, we’ll see how these players pan out this season, as all of them take on larger and more developed roles for their programs.

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