Thoughts on Kofi Cockburn, Ayo Dosunmu, and Marcus Carr

December 27th, 2020

By Alan Lu

I decided to watch Illinois play against Minnesota in a Big Ten conference basketball game, as it was another opportunity to see Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn play, as they play for one of the best college basketball teams in the country, but it also served as an opportunity to watch Marcus Carr play in a live college basketball match.  This turned out to be a rather lopsided affair, and Illinois blew out Minnesota, as they went on to win by 27.  Kofi Cockburn was dominant in this match, as he scored 33 points and 13 rebounds, and Minnesota was plagued with poor shooting and defense throughout this contest.  I was wondering if I should write about this, since this was such a lopsided game in favor of Illinois.  In any case, I have since decided to, and here are my thoughts about a game that happened on December 15th.

Illinois’ 7-0 center, Kofi Cockburn played extremely well in his team’s blowout victory over Minnesota, as he scored 33 points and also collected 13 rebounds in this game.
(Photo:
Patrick Gorski/USA Today Sports, via Duluth News Tribune)

Illinois’ 7-0 sophomore center, Kofi Cockburn had a tremendous showing in his team’s win over Minnesota.  He was absolutely unstoppable in the paint, and he was a force to be reckoned with.  He scored 33 points on 12 of 15 shooting, and he also collected 13 rebounds and blocked 2 shots to help his team get the victory.

Cockburn was very good as a scorer in the post.  He has tremendous size and strength, and he is a mobile center that showed off a really good shooting touch to score consistently on the block.  He would often get deep position down low, and he would often score on turnaround jump hooks.  He has good hands to consistently catch passes, and he also was able to throw down some powerful dunks in this game.  He also can use a quick shoulder fake to get around his opponent, and he would often barrel his way to the hoop to score or get numerous free throws.  He did miss a few times as he would sometimes miss shots too hard, he was dominant as a scorer around the basket against Minnesota.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Cockburn would consistently score on rolls to the rim, and he was able to use a ball fake to throw down a powerful, two-handed dunk.  He also ran the floor to score on a jam in transition.  He also would draw free throws off of put backs after grabbing offensive boards for his team.  He didn’t look to take jumpers from outside of the paint area, but Cockburn’s ability to consistently score on turnaround jump hooks may suggest that he has the potential to develop a reliable mid-range shot in the future.  The only downside was though he drew many free throws, he did not make nearly enough of them when he was at the charity stripe.

He didn’t collect any assists in this game, but as he was scoring so efficiently and as his team was pummeling the Golden Gophers in this match, he really didn’t have to pass the basketball that much.  He was a bit turnover prone though, and there was one play where he committed a charging foul once when trying to operate out of the post.  He also had a ball taken away shortly after grabbing a defensive board that led him to commit another turnover.

Also, Cockburn did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball, and he was basically a chairman of the boards against Minnesota.  In this game, he would often leap up to grab many boards on both ends of the floor.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Cockburn was able to block a couple of shots off of drives due to possessing good length and timing.  His ability to challenge and swat shots helped provide an intimidating presence in the lane.  However, he also would tend to sag off of shooters, which would lead him to allow them to score on jumpers.  He also struggled a bit to defend in the post, as he was prone to committing reach-in fouls when going for steals.  Another time, he leaned too far to his left when defending in the post, and he ended up allowing an easy catch and score around the basket.

In general, Kofi Cockburn absolutely dominated Minnesota, and he was able to have his way throughout this contest.  There is a concern though that the college game is much more geared to big-bodied, low post scoring centers than the NBA though, as the college is played at a pretty slow pace, and the pace of the NBA’s game is much faster. 

Still, it’s undeniable that Cockburn is having a very good sophomore season, and certainly that should factor into his draft stock in some way.  There are some concerns about his mobility and apparent lack of a face-up game, but he has consistently thrived as an interior player at the collegiate level.  Regardless of his draft projection, Cockburn is a strong, physical center whose inside scoring and rebounding skills could enable him to project to be a solid role player in the NBA.

Illinois’ 6-5 junior guard, Ayo Dosunmu has been playing very well this season, and his terrific performance in his team’s win against Duke has catapulted him back up draft boards, as he currently projects to be a late first round prospect for the 2021 draft.
(Photo:
Mike Granse/USA Today Sports, via SB Nation’s The Champaign Room)

Though Ayo Dosunmu didn’t really shot the ball very well in this game, he still had a decent showing in his team’s win over Minnesota because he was able to impact in other ways than just shooting or scoring the basketball. Dosunmu showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  He is a speedy player that can quickly get into the lane, and he would consistently score on drives in transition.  He also used a Euro-step to score on a floater on the break.  He also used a pump fake to score on a smooth layup off of a drive another time.  However, sometimes he would take tough, off-balanced shots that would lead to misses.  He also struggled to knock down jumpers from outside of the paint, as he was usually unable to connect on his mid-range shots, and he also missed on both of his three-point attempts.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills in this game.  Dosunmu is an unselfish player that would look to find the open man, and he can throw good passes off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates.  He also was able to throw an accurate lob pass to a roll man to notch an assist.  However, he would tend to commit ball-handling turnovers due to recklessness, and he also dropped a pass out of bounds another time.  He also threw an inaccurate pass once that led to an over and back violation.

Also, Dosunmu did a very good job of rebounding the basketball in this game.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he especially excelled at getting defensive boards for his team. He also played fairly good defense.  Dosunmu would fight through screens to stay with an opposing ball handler, and he was able to get his man to miss on a floater due to possessing solid length and footwork.  He also made it difficult for an opponent to get an entry pass through, and he was quite active at applying ball pressure on the defensive end.

Overall, Ayo Dosunmu played fairly well in his team’s win over Minnesota.  Though he didn’t quite dominate like he did earlier in the season against Duke, he was still able to make positive, impactful plays, as he made solid team plays to help his team get the victory.  He is a tall, athletic combo guard that has been a very good player in college basketball this season, and he has the skills to thrive as a role player in the NBA.

Marcus Carr, Minnesota’s junior point guard, has been having a very good junior season. He was one of the few bright spots of his team’s lopsided loss to Illinois.
(Photo:
Patrick Gorski/USA Today Sports, via Duluth News Tribune)

For Minnesota, 6-2 junior guard Marcus Carr may have played the best on his team in their loss to Illinois, and Carr put forth a decent showing in this game.  While he didn’t put forth the big-time scoring numbers that was anticipated, it can be noted that this was probably Minnesota’s first tough team that they have faced this season.

Carr showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  He is a quick guard that can consistently get into the lane, and he was able to use a hesitation move to score on a step-through move in traffic.  Carr also showed a very good ability to consistently draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line, and he did a great job of making his foul shots.  On the downside, he did take some questionable, contested shots, and he had some bad looking misses when he would heave up floaters in this game.

He did flash the ability to knock down jumpers, as he was able to make a pull-up jumper from the mid-range, and he also made an open spot-up three.  Carr also was able to get fouled on a mid-range jumper to draw even more free throws.  However, he struggled to consistently make his jump shots from outside of the paint, especially from mid-range.  He also tried to score off of an offensive rebound, but he ended up having his shot blocked on a put back.  He also tried to score out of the post, but he ended up missing both times after taking tough, off-balanced shots.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Carr was able to rack up a string of assists to help his team on offense, and he is a good passer out of the post.  He also did not turn the ball over once.  However, he can sometimes tend to be a ball-stopper on offense, which can hurt his team if his teammates are struggling on offense, and/or if he is not shooting the ball well.

Also, Carr did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was especially active at crashing the defensive glass to help his team get boards. He also played fairly good defense.  Carr was able to block a runner off of a drive out of bounds to show his impressive athleticism and timing, and he also was able to deflect a couple of passes on other occasions.

Overall, Marcus Carr had a fairly solid showing in his team’s double-digit loss to Illinois.  Carr has been having a very good junior season as he’s carried the torch for his team after Daniel Oturu departed to the NBA, albeit they faced a lot of easy to beat teams prior to their match-up against Illinois.  Carr has since put forth strong performances in wins over Saint Louis and Iowa, so it will be greatly anticipated to see how he performs in the next game against Michigan State.  He is Minnesota’s best player and prospect on his team this year, and he may project to be a second round prospect for the 2021 draft.

Illinois’ 6-3 freshman point guard, Adam Miller played fairly well in his team’s win over Minnesota.  He excelled as a spot-up shooter off the catch, and he in particular excelled at making open, corner threes in this game.  He also used a pump fake to make a quick step back, long two from the baseline.  He struggled more to score off the dribble though, and he would sometimes throw up rushed, contested shots that would lead to misses.

He displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Though he looked to score a lot in this game, Miller can pass off the dribble, and he will sometimes look to find the open man to set up scoring chances for them.  He did commit one turnover, as he was called for stepping out of bounds after catching the ball in the corner. He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball, and he was able to leap up to get several defensive boards to help his team on the glass.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  Miller was able to leap up high to intercept a crosscourt pass to get a steal, and he is a rangy defender that can make plays on the ball.  However, he struggled to defend opponents off the dribble on the ball, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  On another play, he and another teammate both guarded a pick and roll ball handler, but left an open three-point shooter open, as they didn’t talk on the defensive end, which led their team to allow a score to their opponent.

Overall, Miller had a decent showing in his team’s win in this game.  He especially excelled at making outside shots from downtown, but he didn’t get collect many assists, and struggled as an on-ball defender.  He will need to be a more consistent performer in games, but his ability to knock down outside shots combined with having fairly solid athletic gifts could enable him to be a second round pick in 2021.

Illinois’ 6-1 freshman point guard, Andre Curbelo also played well in his team’s win over Minnesota.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he is a good shooter that can make pull-up jumpers.  He also used a crossover move to make a smooth, step back three from beyond the arc. 

He also is a speedy playmaker that passes well off the dribble, and he would consistently get the ball to his teammates to set up scores for them.  He also set a good on-ball screen to help his teammate get an open jump shot.  Sometimes though, he would throw passes that would get intercepted.

Defensively, he was perhaps above average.  Curbelo was able to successfully draw a charge when defending in the post, and he also blocked a shot off of a put back.  Sometimes he would struggle to defend opponents in one-on-one situations, which would lead him prone to committing fouls.

Overall, Andre Curbelo may be an underrated prospect, as he is an agile playmaker that can do a little bit of everything on the court.  He will need to improve his ability to knock down threes and take better care of the basketball, but he could be a prospect to keep tabs on, as he could project into a backup point guard role in the NBA one day.

Minnesota’s 7-0 junior center, Liam Robbins started off playing very well, as he made a couple of spot-up threes off the catch, and he also did a good job of scoring on left-handed shots in the post.  He also was able to find a cutter to set up a scoring chance for a teammate, and he also rotated to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate to show some passing and defensive skills.  However, he quickly got into foul trouble, and he often had trouble defending in the post, as he would commit fouls and allow scores.

He had his ups and downs overall, as he showed some solid offensive skills, but he struggled defensively as he fouled out of this game, and he did not defend well in the post.  Overall, Robbins is a skilled, mobile big man that can shoot and score the basketball, and he could be a prospect to watch in the future.

Minnesota’s 6-8 redshirt senior big man, Eric Curry played fairly well in his team’s loss to Illinois.  He shot the ball very well, as he was able to make a long two off the bank, and he also made an open three to show his range.  Plus, he also managed to score on a turnaround jump hook.

While no one on his team was able to defend Cockburn, Curry was able to poke a ball away from an opponent off of a drive to get a steal, and he also successfully drew a charge another time.  Overall, Curry had one of the better games on his team, and he is a strong, mobile big man that could project to be a stretch big in the NBA if he makes it there one day.

Illinois’ 6-2 senior guard, Trent Frazier played fairly well in his team’s win over Minnesota.  He excelled as a shooter in this game, as he was able to make a step back three, and he also scored on spot-up jumpers from the corner.  He also showed the ability to defend out on the perimeter and in the post, though he was also prone to committing fouls at times.  Overall, he is an agile combo guard that can knock down jump shots, and that could help him compete for a roster spot in the NBA either next season or sometime down the road.

Minnesota’s 6-8 redshirt senior forward, Brandon Johnson didn’t shoot the ball well in his team’s loss to Illinois, but he played better towards the end.  He was aggressive in taking the ball to the hoop when looking to score off the dribble, and he has solid athleticism and strength to score and absorb contact to draw fouls upon his defenders.  He struggled to make jumpers outside of the paint area, but Johnson showed that he can ably take opponents off the dribble to get strong scores in the paint.

He also rebounded and defended fairly well, as he was able to get plenty of boards on both ends of the floor, and he excelled as a shot blocker to help his team protect the paint.  He also managed to intercept a pass to get a steal another time.

Overall, Johnson didn’t play very well in this game, but I felt he played better than both Gach and Ihnen in his team’s loss to Illinois.  He will need to shoot the ball better from downtown, as he would project into a 3 and D role in the NBA if he makes it there someday.  For the time being, he does not have much draft buzz and would currently be a long shot to be drafted, but his athleticism and defensive skills could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA either next season or sometime down the road.

Minnesota’s 6-6 junior swingman, Both Gach was incredibly disappointing in this game.  He did not make a field goal, as he was 0 for 9 from the field, and he scored just one point in his team’s loss to Illinois.  He’s a talented swingman, but his shot selection has been a constant source of concern for him, as he put forth terrible shooting percentages for Utah as a sophomore last season.

Against Illinois, Gach would consistently miss on drives to the hoop, as he tended to miss on rushed shots around the basket, and he also would miss easy layups even when he was open at the rim.  He was also unable to make a three-point shot, but he was able to draw a non-shooting foul after using a strong spin move in the post.  After drawing free throws late in this game, he was able to score a point later in this contest.

He displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  He is a tall, athletic player that can handle the ball, and he would look to find the open man to set up scores for his teammates.  However, sometimes he would commit turnovers due to carelessness.  He lost the ball when handling it that led to an over and back violation, and he also threw a crosscourt jump pass that ended up getting intercepted.

Also, Gach was able to get his fair share of boards, as he was able to get several defensive rebounds in this game for his team.  However, he did not defend well when he was on the court.  He would consistently sag too far off of shooters to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  He also struggled to defend quicker opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls.

Overall, Both Gach had actually been playing well this season prior to this game, but his performance was just utterly atrocious in his team’s loss to Illinois.  He has since played better in the following games, but he’s been noted for being an inconsistent shooter in college.  It will be interesting to see how well he fares against Michigan State, but he is a very athletic player who could end up making it to the NBA if he can put his skills all together someday.

Minnesota’s 6-9 sophomore forward, Isaiah Ihnen did not shoot the ball very well nor play well in his team’s loss to Illinois.  He missed on all four of his three-point shots off the catch, and he was unable to connect on any of his three-point attempts off of pick and pop plays. 

He also exhibited mixed results when trying to score around the basket.  He also threw up an unsightly, air-ball when trying to score off of an off-balanced put back.  He did manage to draw free throws when posting up, and he also managed to score on a baseline cut to the hoop.  He did try to drive to the hoop another time, but he ended up having his shot blocked.

He also was fairly turnover prone in this game.  He was called for traveling after getting an offensive rebound on the floor, and he also threw a weak pass that ended up getting intercepted.

On the positive side, he did rebound and defend fairly well when he was on the court.  Ihnen was quite active on the glass, and he was able to haul in multiple boards to help his team get rebounds.  He did commit a foul when going for an offensive rebound once, though.  Ihnen also played fairly good defense in this game.  He hustled back to block a shot off of a drive in transition, and he also contested a drive to force a miss another time.

Overall, Isaiah Ihnen’s play was massively disappointing, especially considering he did not shoot the ball very well, and he missed all of his three-point shots.  Offensively, he was catastrophically bad in this game, and he didn’t really do anything on that end that made him sort of a promising prospect as a freshman.

His ability to make three-point shots is what made him an enticing prospect in the first place, but now, he’s not shooting the ball well at all nor taking many shots this season.  Ihnen has regressed considerably on offense, but he’s at least improved as a rebounder, shot blocker, and defender.  It was probably unreasonable to place any sort of expectations on him, but he needs to shoot the ball way better than he has been this season.  Right now, he looks to be a long shot to be drafted, but he could project to be a solid player on a high-level professional team sometime down the road if he can regain anywhere close to what his outside shot used to be.

Minnesota’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Tre Williams played well off the bench, and he showed off versatile scoring skills in this game. He was able to make a bank three, and he also excelled at scoring off the dribble to help put up points for his team. He also was able to drive in and kick a ball out to a shooter to notch an assist, and he also was able to jump a pass to get a steal.

In this game, he didn’t take many shots, but he was very efficient in scoring the basketball when he was on the court on this day. Williams is a fairly athletic combo guard that played well in his team’s loss to Illinois. He will need to improve his outside shot and be more assertive on offense moving forward, but he could be a player to watch in the future.

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