Thoughts on Keegan Murray and Kofi Cockburn

December 6th, 2021

By Alan Lu

This time around, I wanted to get a chance to watch Iowa’s rising sophomore forward, Keegan Murray who has been shooting up draft boards due to his strong start, as he has been scoring a lot this year, and he recently came off a solid performance in his team’s win over Virginia.  He’s faced an easy schedule as he didn’t face a single tough team in his first six games, but he’s been hurt recently, and so this is his first game back since he sat out against Purdue. 

Murray struggled early on, but he was able to find his stride late, and he was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the floor.  Unfortunately for him, Illinois ended up taking a commanding lead in the second half, and they managed to hold on to get the victory, due to the strong post play of Kofi Cockburn, and the hot shooting of their guards.  Andre Curbelo did not play in this game, but Illinois’ guards played very well in his absence to help their team get the victory. Here are my thoughts on how Murray, Cockburn, and others fared today.

Iowa’s sophomore forward, Keegan Murray scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half in his team’s loss to Illinois.
(Photo:
Jerod Ringwald/The Daily Iowan)

Keegan Murray had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Illinois.  He is an athletic combo forward that played well down the stretch on both ends of the floor to help his team stay in the contest. Murray showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  He did a great job of scoring on strong drives in transition, and he also drove in to score on a high-flying, two-handed dunk late in this match.  He also managed to score on a strong put back while drawing an extra free throw.  He also glided in to score on a powerful dunk off of a backdoor cut.  Plus, he also excelled at taking on the contact to draw fouls upon his defenders in order to get to the free throw line.  Also, Murray showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He used a hesitation move to score on a drive to the hoop, and he also managed to get an extra free throw afterwards.

Also, he flashed a solid jump shot at times during the course of this match.  Murray used a crossover to smoothly score on a pull-up, mid-range jumper from the baseline.  He also ran off of a ball screen and made a quick spot-up three from the left wing.  He has a smooth shooting stroke and he showed that he can knock down outside shots.  On the downside, he struggled to score on mid-range jumpers or on threes consistently in this game.  Murray also backed his man down and used a drop step move to draw free throws in the post.  Unfortunately, he tended to rush his shots around the basket, and he would tend to miss easy layups after trying to score from the block.

He also showed off fairly average playmaking skills.  Murray was able to throw a sharp entry pass to get the ball to a teammate down low.  He also would set screens for his teammate, and he was able to help his teammate get an open jump shot once.  On one play though, he threw an interior pass that ended up getting dropped that led to a turnover.  Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Murray was able to leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he also managed to push the ball up the court after getting a defensive rebound once. 

He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  Murray is an active help defender that can get plenty of blocks and steals for his teams.  He did a great job of jumping on passes to get steals and deflections, and he also dove on a ground and ripped a ball away to get another steal late in this contest.  He also rotated to tie up an opponent in the post, and he also was able to block shots to help his team protect the paint.   On the downside, he would sometimes take bad angles when defending opponents in one-one situations, and it would lead him to trail his man and allow scores.  He also got caught ball watching and lost track of his man on a cut, which led him to commit a foul that time.  Late in the game, he should’ve communicated to a teammate that a screen was coming on an inbounds play and they should’ve switched, and it led their team to give up a mid-range basket on the baseline.

Overall, Keegan Murray played fairly well, and he especially played well in crunch time in his team’s loss to Illinois.  He’ll need to be a more consistent outside shooter in games, but even still, he is a smooth scorer and is a rangy defender that can cover plenty of ground.  He looks to be a solid prospect, and he could be a good pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round range in the 2022 draft.

Illinois’ 7-0 junior center, Kofi Cockburn scored 17 points and had 18 rebounds, and he was 3 points and 2 rebounds away from a 20-point, 20-rebound performance in his team’s win over Iowa.
(Photo:
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press, via Chicago Sun-Times)

Kofi Cockburn played very well in his team’s win over Iowa.  He excelled as an inside scorer and rebounder in the paint, and he is a tall, strong center that would outmuscle his points to help his team score and rebound in order to help them get the victory. Cockburn did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a put back.  He also caught a high pass on a roll to the rim, and drew free throws when taking a tough, contorted layup.  He also showed off adequate low post scoring skills.  He would often get deep position, and that would enable him to score on right-handed jump hooks and drop step moves.  Sometimes though, he would not always get great lift on his shot, and he would sometimes not get enough touch on his shot, which would lead him to miss shots in the paint.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Cockburn did a good job of passing out of the post to find open shooters, and he also threw a sharp pass out of a double team to find the open man once.  He also would find cutters from the post due to possessing solid court vision.  He also set an off-ball screen that helped his teammate score on an open jump shot.  Sometimes though, he would have trouble protecting the ball when posting up under pressure.  On one play, he had a ball stolen away from him when posting up once.

Also, Cockburn did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He was a chairman of the boards in this game, and he did a terrific job of getting strong rebounds, especially on the defensive end.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he would rotate to contest shots in the paint to help force some misses.  However, he would tend to give up too much space to shooters, or he would overcompensate by committing fouls as a result.  On one play, he didn’t switch or step out to defend an open three-point shooter, which led him to allow a score that time.  Another time, he was late to defend in a scramble situation, and he then committed an aggressive foul on a three-point shooter, which led his team to give up a four-point play.  He also got beat off the dribble when defending out on the perimeter, as he struggled to move his feet, and he ended up fouling his opponent that time.

Overall, Kofi Cockburn put forth a strong performance, and he played especially well in the second half to lead his team to get a tough road win over Iowa.  He didn’t really look to take jumpers from outside of the paint area, and he still has trouble defending out on the perimeter, so it’s uncertain if his game would translate nearly as well to the NBA.  Still, his size, strength, and interior play has enabled him to be a very good center at the collegiate level, and he will likely get looks from NBA teams in the second round whenever he decides to enter the draft.

Jacob Grandison turned in a very good performance in this game.  He is an agile, skilled swingman that showed his sharpshooting prowess, and he primarily excelled as an outside shooter to help his team get the victory over Iowa. Grandison did a very good job of knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He showed that he can do so off the catch and dribble, and he also was able to knock down a three from well beyond the arc.  He also ran off of a ball screen to score on a quick, baseline jumper from the mid-range.  He also scored on a put back to show his ability to score on hustle plays. 

On the downside, he also struggled to make mid-range shots consistently, and he also missed on a cut to the hoop, as he can sometimes struggle to score when defended tightly by his opponents.  He also struggled a bit defensively.  On one play, he struggled to cut off penetration when defending an opponent, and he ended up fouling his man on a drive in transition. Overall, Jacob Grandison is mobile, skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and he thrived as a shooter off the bench to provide instant offense for his team in his team’s win over Iowa.  He’ll need to show teams that he can capably defend upper echelon opponents.  Even still, he’s having a good season this year, and he could project into a shooting specialist role off the bench in the NBA.

Alfonso Plummer also played well in his team’s win over Iowa.  He did a great job of knocking down threes early on, and he showed that he can make them off the catch, dribble, and he also ran off of a ball screen to make a quick spot-up three another time.  He also is an agile guard that showed that he can score on strong drives in traffic, and he also managed to score on a switch of hands layup while getting fouled simultaneously. 

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He was able to drive in and make a drop-off pass to set up a scoring chance for a teammate.  On another play though, he lost the ball when handling it to commit a turnover.  On defense though, he struggled to defend opposing ball handlers, as he had trouble cutting off penetration on drives, would give up too much space to shooters, and he struggled to prevent opponents from scoring on him.

Overall, Alfonso Plummer is an agile, skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball.  He thrived at knocking down shots, especially early on, but he also struggled to defend in this game.  He is a skilled scorer that can do so in a variety of ways.  He’ll likely need to show teams that he can effectively run the point and defend upper echelon opponents, but in the future, his jump shot could enable him to carve out a rotation role at the NBA level similar to San Antonio Spurs’ guard, Bryn Forbes in the association.

Trent Frazier also played well in his team’s win over Iowa.  He did a good job of shooting, scoring, and defending when he was on the floor.  He was fairly turnover prone, but he played well on both ends of the floor.  Frazier did a good job of knocking down open threes, and he also was able to bank in a mid-range jumper to score another time.  He also was able to score on a speedy drive in transition to show his ability to score on fast breaks.  Unfortunately, he was quite turnover prone in this game.  He would throw hasty, inaccurate passes that would go astray.  He also struggled to handle the ball when heavily pressured.  He had a ball stolen away from him.  Another time, he was bringing the ball up way too slowly, and it led him and his team to be called for a ten second violation.

Also, Frazier did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He also excelled at forcing turnovers to get steals.  He was able to jump a pass to get a steal, and he also poked a ball away to get another.  Overall, Trent Frazier is an agile, combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he turned in a good showing to help his team get the win.  He will need to show NBA teams that he can effectively run the point and also be a more consistent shooter in games.  He can tend to be too streaky with his jump shot at times, but his ability to make shots in rhythm combined with having solid foot speed could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA sometime in the future.

Iowa’s 6-4 sophomore guard, Tony Perkins played fairly well in his team’s loss to Illinois.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he is an athletic, strong guard that was able to make some solid defensive plays in this game.  Perkins showed a knack for scoring on spot-up threes, mid-range floaters, and strong drives in transition.  He excelled as a shooter in this game, and he also would score opportunistically on aggressive fast break drives. 

He also was aggressive defensively, and it helped him get several key stops for his team.  Perkins was able to quickly jump a pass to get a steal.  He also defended an opposing ball handler tightly and forced a ten-second violation.  He also successfully drew a charge when defending in the backcourt.  Sometimes though, he would be too aggressive in trying to make plays, which would lead him to take bad angles when defending opponents off the dribble, or to committing reach-in fouls.  He also was in an area to rotate but didn’t contest a three-point shot, as his team allowed a score another time.

Overall, Tony Perkins had a solid showing in this game.  He is an athletic scoring guard that can shoot, score, and defend, and he played well on both ends of the floor.  He is a talented guard that showed that he can make solid plays when he is on the court, and he could be a prospect to watch in the future.

Ahron Ulis is an athletic, combo guard that excelled as a scorer and defender in this game.  He is a very quick, rangy defender that generally defended well.  He showed a knack for intercepting passes to get steals, and he also poked a ball away to get another.  He also applied heavy ball pressure when defending an opponent to help force a ten-second violation.  On one play though, he got beat off the dribble, and he ended up fouling his opponent, which led him to give up the score and an extra free throw.

He also showed off versatile scoring skills in this game.  He showed a knack for scoring on strong drives in transition, and he also would get to the free throw line on strong, right-handed half-court drives.  Ulis also was able to use a crossover to make a pull-up three, but he also missed a mid-range shot from the elbow another time.  Overall, Ulis did a good job of playing aggressively to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He played well in this game, and he could be a player to keep tabs on down the road.

Iowa’s 6-9 sophomore forward, Patrick McCaffery had some good moments in his team’s loss to Illinois.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, as he thrived as a scorer off of backdoor cuts, and as a three-point shooter from beyond the arc.  He excelled at making spot-up threes, and he also showed that he can contort his body in different ways to score on cuts to the hoop.  However, he generally struggled to score on mid-range jumpers or off the dribble.  He also didn’t seem to make much of an impact in the other areas of the game.

Overall, Patrick McCaffery is a tall, mobile forward that showed off versatile scoring skills.  He’ll need to be a more consistent outside shooter, as he’s struggled to shoot well on the season, but he was able to shoot fairly well in this game.  If he can show NBA teams that he can consistently shoot well in games, he could project into a shooting specialist role in the NBA someday.

Coleman Hawkins had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Iowa.  His team was able to get a tough, decisive victory over their Big Ten rival, but he seemed to struggle to shoot, score, or defend for most of this game. Hawkins did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He showed a knack for drawing fouls off of backdoor cuts to get to the free throw line.  He also did a satisfactory job of scoring off the dribble.  He drove towards the baseline and used a step-through move to score on a patient, reverse flip layup.  He also drove hard off of an offensive rebound to score on a smooth, finger roll layup.  On the downside, he missed on a turnaround jumper from the mid-range, and Hawkins missed all of his threes that he took from beyond the arc.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills in this game.  Hawkins is an unselfish player that would find open shooters to set up scores for them.  However, he would also struggle to handle the ball when pressured.  He was called for traveling when handling it once.  Another time, he didn’t bring the ball quickly enough, and he picked up his dribble too early, and it led him to commit a ten-second violation.  He also threw a lazy pass from the post that got intercepted.

He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Hawkins was able to chase down boards to help his team get rebounds on both sides of the ball.  Defensively though, he struggled in this game.  He had trouble defending opponents off the dribble as he lacks elite lateral quickness.  Other times, he would be too aggressive in contesting shots, which would lead him prone to committing fouls and allowing scores around the basket.

Overall, Coleman Hawkins didn’t have his best game, but he is an unselfish player that will look to find open teammates to set up scores for them.  He plays with a pass-first mentality, and he can sometimes knock down open jumpers.  He didn’t shoot the ball well in this game though, and he generally struggled to make plays against more athletic opponents.  He’ll need to play better against top teams, but currently, he projects to be a borderline second round candidate whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

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