Illinois basketball primed for a special season

Reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Kofi Cockburn is returning to Illinois for his sophomore season.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCCU/WICS/WRSP) - With fall sports postponed in the Big Ten, Illini fans are more eager than ever for the return of college basketball.

That excitement was amplified with the return of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, which propelled Illinois into the top 10 in several national rankings.

Former Illinois and NBA guard Kendall Gill expressing that excitement and what it means for Illinois coming off a season that should have seen the Illini play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013, before the unfortunate cancellation of sports in March.

"If the season does happen, it's great for us!" Gill said at his annual golf outing at the University of Illinois Golf Course on August 10.

"We get to watch top level college basketball once again at the U of I."

"We get to see that team (with) another year of maturity. One of the best players in the country in Ayo lead this team. I'm looking forward to it.

Gill, like many alumni and fans, have been patiently awaiting Illinois' return to the upper echelon of college basketball. The Illini only missed the NCAA Tournament four times from 1982-2007, but have failed to make the field of 64 ten times since 2008, with their last trip to the big dance coming in the 2012-13 season.

"It puts us back where we're supposed to be, how we could pencil in going to the NCAA Tournament each and every year. I think you can do that with this team."

Gill sees the arrow continuing to point up for Illinois, who after adding highly touted guard Adam Miller in the class of 2020, could have more success follow on the recruiting trail.

"When they do reach the NCAA Tournament and have another year like they had last year, it's going to do wonders for our recruitment."