Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography
By David Cordova
New York City’s hoop scene is largely dominated by one position: the guard spot. Mainly, when one hears about the talent in the Big Apple, they think of the player that either runs the team or the one that is taking plenty of shots.
But one position that many don’t think of is: the post position. Frankly, the reason why is because there are very few players that are taller than 6-foot-6 in the area.
However, there is one player in the Class of 2019 that is towering above other players on the court. Kofi Cockburn is his name. The 6-foot-10 junior forward out of the legendary powerhouse, Christ the King High School in the Middle Village section of Queens, NY has been one of the best players in his class since his freshman year at the school.
He is a dominant player who can do many things on the court, but possesses the skills of a dominant big man who can rebound, block shots and terrorize the rim as well as step out and shoot a jumper.
When asked about what motivates him to be successful in the game of basketball, his answer is: “The people around me, my teammates, I love the sport.”
Cockburn is a native of the country of Jamaica, and has only been playing hoops for the last three-and-a-half years, but by his skill set, one would never know that he has been playing for only a short amount of time.
When asked about being from Jamaica, he replied, “It’s good. It’s been a big change, but I’ve adopted [the United States].”
On the basketball culture in Jamaica: “It’s kind of the same. They don’t push you as much sometimes. Sometimes, it’s more of a love thing. It gets you better actually.”
Since his days as a ninth-grader, Cockburn has been high on the radar of elite players in New York City. But unlike a lot of elite prospects at other schools, he started his years with the Royals on the freshman team.
But the following year, he started on a varsity squad that went 18-10 last season and was one of the best big men in the city. When asked about what being a Royal means to him, he replied: “It means a lot to me, like, I got to come out and perform every day and do my best. I get pushed there, coach is on my back all the time. So it means a lot.”
Cockburn is also being coached by someone who was once a Royal himself. Head coach Joe Arbitello, who is in his 10th season at the helm, is a 1995 graduate of Christ the King. In his senior year, Coach Arbitello was a part of a team that featured three future NBA players in Lamar Odom, Speedy Claxton and Erick Barkley, which won the CHSAA championship. As a coach, he has won five CHSAA city titles and three New York state championships at his alma mater.
When asked about what it’s like playing for Coach Arbitello, Cockburn replied, “It’s great because whenever I’m feeling down or have questions I could go to him and ask him and he’ll talk to me about it, he tries to get me better on & off the court, he tries to make me a better person in school & everything, so it’s good.”
He is also a fixture on the New York Rens, an AAU program that plays in the Nike EYBL, one of the prestigious events in the country. Last summer, on the 17U level, he averaged 11.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the Rens in EYBL. When asked about playing for them, Cockburn replied, “It’s the same thing basically [like Christ the King], it’s a bunch of guys that want to get you better on & off the court.”
So far Cockburn’s junior season has been very promising and he has averaged 13.3 points in the team’s first ten games. At the present time, they are 9-4 overall and 5-2 in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan league. When asked about this year, he replied, “It’s going alright, it’s going as planned, I just gotta stick to the root.”
As far as his recruitment, he has attracted a ton of interest from major schools such as Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Indiana, UCLA amongst others.
Another thing about Cockburn is that he is a wise philosopher, unlike many youth his age. There is one major quote that he lives by. “If you do tomorrow what you did today, you’re going to get tomorrow what you did today, so every day you got to do something different to get progress,” he replied.
Right now, Cockburn’s major goal is to lead Christ the King back to the city championship game, which they haven’t been in since 2015, when they last won a title, and also to get a state title in Glens Falls.
With time, there’s no doubt that Cockburn will develop into a great talent. He is definitely a Division I talent. If he excels there, that could bode well for his future. When asked about where he sees himself in the future, he replied, “Well, just getting better, being a better person and to continue winning.”
Highlights of Kofi Cockburn:
Courtesy of Rivals.com
Courtesy of HS Box Scores NYC.
Courtesy of Ceasy Productions.
Courtesy of Hoop Major.
Courtesy of Moving Pictures.