My potential prospects for the San Antonio Spurs continue with the Big Ten Conference. During the 2021 NCAA season, the Big Ten established itself as a basketball powerhouse. Michigan and Illinois were seeded first in their prospective regions of the bracket and Ohio State and Iowa were ranked second. Wisconsin, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue, and Michigan State all also got bids.
Can their top players become NBA talent? The All-Conference team saw representatives from Illinois, Iowa, Ohio State, and Purdue. All of those teams were seeded four or higher, so it should come as no surprise that many players are NBA-ready. But will they be on the Spurs’ draft board with the 12th and 41st picks? Should they even be on the radar? That remains to be seen.
Kofi Cockburn, Center, Illinois
Kofi Cockburn has decided to remain in college for at least one more year so he will be unavailable for any team to draft this season. Despite this, he was a highly touted NBA prospect already. In 2022, I could see him being a very high lottery pick, and for good reason.
The solid seven-footer nearly averaged a double-double, with 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds last season. He is a true center, swatting shots and roaming the paint, rarely making a trip outside.
I hate to compare players to Shaq, but he might be the next dominant true center. He can’t guard wings and playmakers, he can’t shoot from outside, and he can’t really put the ball on the floor. That doesn’t really matter though, because he will own any paint he gets to step in.
A lot of potential NBA big men need to bulk up or get stronger. Cockburn doesn’t need to do any of that. He already has the size, weight, and strength. He could add some speed, but that might hinder his dominance in the paint. The Spurs won’t be able to get him this year, but dropping a first-round pick on him in 2022 should be rewarded with a future All-NBA center to build around.