Thoughts on Ayo Dosunmu, Luka Garza, and Kofi Cockburn

March 9th, 2020

by Alan Lu

As the regular season is coming to a close, I decided to tune in to watch Ayo Dosunmu and Illinois play against Luka Garza and Iowa in a tough, competitive Big Ten basketball game that was played yesterday, as both of the teams were jockeying for position in the upcoming conference tournament that will be played later this month. It was a hard fought match in which both teams traded leads back and forth, but Illinois was able to hold off Iowa to get a narrow victory at home. Here are my thoughts on how Dosunmu and Garza played, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Illinois' sophomore guard, Ayo Dosunmu played well in his team's win over Iowa. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/The St. Louis Post Dispatch)
Illinois’ sophomore guard, Ayo Dosunmu played well in his team’s win over Iowa. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press, via The St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Illinois’s sophomore guard, Ayo Dosunmu had a solid showing to help lead his team to a close win over Iowa. He is a speedy, fleet-footed playmaker that can quickly get into the lane, and he excelled as a facilitator, and he also generally made big shots down the stretch. He also rebounded and defended well, and he had a good all-around game despite getting off to a relatively slow start in the first half.

Dosunmu showed a good ability to score on speedy drives in transition. He has very good speed to get to the rim off the dribble, and he also would tend to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the foul line. Sometimes though, he would miss shots in traffic, as he can be prone to rushing his shots.

He also did a very good job of knocking down mid-range jumpers to help space the floor for his team. Dosunmu had a penchant for making pull-up jumpers from the mid-range area, as he would make them effortlessly when he was on the floor. He also was able to score on a floater after chasing down a ball to get an offensive rebound once.

On the downside, Dosunmu struggled to consistently make threes when he would hoist them up from beyond the arc. He did make one long-range shot from well beyond the arc, but he would tend to miss spot-up threes, especially when he would attempt them from the corner.

He also displayed good playmaking skills in this game. Dosunmu is a quick, agile player that can consistently get into the lane, as he would throw good passes off the dribble to find shooters and teammates around the basket to set up a wealth of scores for them. He can throw crisp, accurate lobs to roll men to notch assists, and he also can quickly drop off a pass after drawing in multiple defenders off of a drive to pick up some dimes. On the downside, he did commit his fair share of turnovers. Sometimes, he can throw hasty passes that can wind up going astray, and he also committed a couple of ball-handling turnovers as he can occasionally play too fast and out of control at times.

Also, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Dosunmu would chase down balls to get plenty of boards on both ends of the floor, and he also was able to get some tough offensive boards in this game.

He also played solid defense. Dosunmu was able to take a ball away from an opponent in the backcourt to get a steal, and he also dove on the ground and jumped on a loose ball to his team collect another after his teammate had tipped an entry pass. Dosunmu will also contest shots, and he was able to successfully challenge a three-point shot to force a miss.

In general, Ayo Dosunmu is a very athletic, skilled combo guard that has a variety of skills that could enable him to succeed at the next level, and he showed off an impressive ability to distribute the basketball in this game. He made good passes pretty much throughout the game, and he excelled as a scorer in the second half down the stretch. Right now, he hasn’t seemed to draw much buzz lately, but Dosunmu is a talented player that could be a good find for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Iowa's junior center, Luka Garza had a strong showing in his team's loss to Illinois.  (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press)
Iowa’s junior center, Luka Garza had a strong showing in his team’s loss to Illinois. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press)

Iowa’s 6-11 junior center, Luka Garza played very well in his team’s tough loss to Illinois. He showed off versatile scoring skills, he helped out on the boards, and he also made good passes when he was on the floor.

Garza did a very good job of scoring in the post. He is a tall, physical post presence that can often get deep post position on the block, and he would often get scores around the basket. He has a quick spin move that allows him to easily get past his defender to get the score, and he also was able to score on a couple of powerful dunks. He also showed a fairly good ability to draw fouls upon his defenders. Sometimes though, he would struggle to score in traffic, and he would not always get much lift on his shot.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Garza showed a good ability to score in transition, and he also was able to score on a put back on the break after crashing the glass to get an offensive board. He also managed to cut to the hoop to get the ball in the post, which enabled him to score on a layup off the glass.

Garza also showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers in this game. He was able to make a quick, open three off the catch early on, and he also made a long two from the baseline. However, Garza tended to miss threes when he would attempt them from well beyond the arc, and he also struggled to make mid-range jumpers consistently against Illinois.

Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills. Garza is a good passer out of the post, and he can find open shooters to set up scores for them. He also set a good screen that helped enable a teammate to get a score on a drive to the hoop. However, he also was called for a push off when trying to post up off the ball that led him to commit an offensive foul once. He also threw an inaccurate pass that led his teammate to get stripped by an opponent in the backcourt that led his team to commit another turnover.

He also showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball. Garza would sometimes leap up to get defensive boards, and he will also box out his man to get some rebounds. On the downside, he was called for committing an over the back foul once when going for an offensive board.

Plus, he also played adequate defense in this game. Garza did a good job of rotating to block shots to help his team protect the paint, and he possesses good length and timing to do so. He also managed to deflect an entry pass out of bounds, and he also poked a ball away to nearly get steals for his team. He also showed that he can defend in the post to help his team get some stops.

On the downside, he would try to front his man when defending in the post, but would often allow his man to get an easy catch on the block, and he would be out of position, which lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores. Garza had trouble defending down low when he wasn’t able to block shots, as his lack of elite mobility made it tough for him to guard quicker players in the paint.

In summary, Luka Garza is a tough, physical big man that can score the basketball in a variety of ways. His ability to make jumpers along with his ability to score on the block has made him one of the best players in college basketball, but NBA decision makers haven’t been as convinced that he’ll be able to translate his game to that level. The concerns they have are his apparent lack of mobility, and Garza has been regarded as a below average athlete that may have trouble keeping up with quicker players defensively at the next level. Along with that, there may be concerns about whether or not if he’ll be able to get his shots off as easily, since today’s NBA has seen a withering decline in post play, as it has become more perimeter oriented.

Still, there’s no denying that Garza has been tremendously productive this year, and his ability to space the floor could at least allow him to be a stretch big at the next level. Right now, Garza may be a borderline second round candidate, and he’ll need to show that he can succeed against quicker, more athletic players, but his size and ability to make shots could allow him to compete for a backup center role in the association.

Illinois' freshman center, Kofi Cockburn also played well, as he helped lead his team to a win over Iowa.  (Photo: Holly Hart/The Associated Press, via The Gazette.)
Illinois’ freshman center, Kofi Cockburn also played well, as he helped lead his team to a win over Iowa. (Photo: Holly Hart/The Associated Press, via The Gazette.)

Illinois’ freshman center, Kofi Cockburn also played well in his team’s win over Iowa. He’s a tough, athletic big man that can score and rebound the basketball, and he also made some good passes in this game.

Cockburn did a good job of scoring in the post. He would often get deep position down low, and he would get scores around the basket. He was able to score on a left-handed jump hook, and he also caught a lob to score on an alley-oop dunk. He also showed a decent ability to draw fouls upon his defenders. Sometimes though he would miss shots in traffic, and he had one shot blocked after using a power dribble to try to get his shot up.

He also showed a good ability to score on hustle plays. Cockburn was able to catch a lob pass off of a roll to the rim, and he managed to score on a powerful alley-oop dunk while drawing an extra free throw. He also managed to draw free throws after dribbling in to try to score on a put back. On the other hand, he did miss once when attempting a jump hook off of an offensive rebound another time.

Cockburn also displayed decent playmaking skills. He is a patient player that passes well out of the post, and he was able to find a teammate on a cut to notch an assist.   In addition, he also did not turn the ball over once on offense.

Plus, he also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He was quite active on the glass, and he would crash the boards to get plenty of rebounds on both sides of the ball.

He also played adequate defense. Cockburn would jump passes to get steals, and he also made a game-saving block on an opponent’s fadeaway jumper in the post on the final play of the game. He also was able to contest mid-range jumpers to force misses, and he was an active interior presence when defending down low, and on one play, one opponent traveled upon sight of seeing him around the basket.

On the downside, he would tend to sag too far off his man, and he would give up too much space to shooters, which would lead him to allow them to score on jumpers. He also had some trouble defending opponents in the post, as he would get beat on spin moves to allow scores, and he also whiffed on a steal attempt that led him to allow his man to score on a dunk. He also can be prone to being out of position and committing touch fouls, as he can tend to struggle to guard quicker players on the floor.

In summary, Kofi Cockburn is an athletic, physical center that can score and rebound to help his team on both ends of the floor. Right now, he has not drawn much draft buzz, so he may be more of a prospect for the 2021 draft. He will need to improve his jump shot and show that he can defend quicker, more athletic players, but his ability to man the paint combined with his size and mobility could potentially enable him to be a second round pick for an NBA team in 2021.

Other Notes:

Illinois’ 6-6 redshirt senior swingman, Kipper Nichols played very well in his team’s win over Iowa. He mostly excelled as a low post scorer, but he also can score on hustle plays, and he also scored on a mid-range jumper from the baseline. He also threw an accurate lob pass to get an assist, and he also would get tough offensive rebounds to help his team on the glass.

Overall, Nichols is an athletic, energetic player that had a solid showing to help lead his team to a close victory over Iowa. He will need to improve his jump shot to improve his ability to space the floor at higher levels, but regardless, he may have the skills to potentially make an NBA team’s summer league roster either later this year or sometime down the road.

Iowa’s 6-0 freshman point guard, Joe Toussaint had a stellar showing in his team’s loss to Illinois. He excelled as a shooter and scorer when he was on the floor. He made open, spot-up threes off the catch, and he also did a good job of scoring on quick, left-handed drives to the hoop. He also can throw long passes to notch assists, but he also can get intercepted on his passes on occasion.

Overall, Toussaint is a speedy playmaker that can score the basketball, and he could be a player to watch for the 2021 draft.

Illinois’ 6-2 senior guard, Andres Feliz also played very well in his team’s win over Iowa. He showed a penchant for making spot-up threes off the catch, and he has a lot of range on his shot. He also was able to score on smooth runners off the dribble, and he also received the ball off of a cut to score on a floater.

Overall, he excelled as a shooter and shot maker on the floor, and he is an athletic, skilled combo guard that could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster later this year.

Iowa’s 6-2 senior point guard, Bakari Evelyn played very well for his team off the bench in his team’s tough loss to Illinois. He showed a knack for making spot-up threes, and he was able to make a corner three in transition. He also managed to score on a reverse layup off of a drive in transition. Overall, he excelled as a shooter and shot maker on the floor, and he is an athletic, skilled combo guard that could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster later this year.

Illinois’ 6-3 junior guard, Da’Monte Williams excelled at knocking down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense, and he also managed to block a shot in the post out of bounds. Williams made a couple of threes as well as a long two, and he showed some defensive skills in this game. Overall, he played well for his team off the bench, and he could be a player to watch in the future.

Illinois’ 6-9 sophomore forward, Giorgi Bezhanishvili played fairly well in his team’s win over Iowa. He showed an adequate ability to score on turnaround jump hooks, and he can do so using either hand. He also drove in from the high post and threw a nice drop off pass to collect an assist. He’s a skilled player that can post up and pass off the dribble, and he could be a prospect to watch in 2021.

Iowa’s 6-6 sophomore swingman, Joe Wieskamp did not play very well, nor did he seem to stand out for most of this game. He often missed jumpers, and he shot the ball terribly from the field. On the plus side, he played unselfishly as he was able to pick up several assists, and he also backed an opponent down in the post to score on a tough, turnaround jumper.

I’m not entirely sure if he’s an NBA prospect worth watching, but he can post up and pass, but his lack of elite physical tools combined with his seeming lack of ability to score off the dribble against quicker players may limit his upside as a prospect for the NBA, and he will definitely need to stay in school to hone his game. If he plays better next year, he could perhaps be a potential second round prospect in 2021.