Despite a deep connection with Kentucky’s two new assistant coaches and a great deal of recent buzz that the Wildcats would top off their talent-gobbling binge by pulling Illinois star Kofi Cockburn from the transfer portal, multiple sources now say the 7-foot All-American is not coming to Lexington after all.

Cockburn pulled out of the NBA Draft and plans to announce where he’ll continue his college career on Friday. While he has not publicly removed UK from the race, the two realistic options now are a return to Illinois or a surprise move to Florida State. The former would stabilize Brad Underwood’s program, which has been hemorrhaging coaches and players since the conclusion of its best season in 15 years. The latter would elevate Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles to legitimate national title contenders.

Illinois lost star Ayo Dosunmu to the draft and former top-30 recruit Adam Miller (LSU) to the transfer portal. But dazzling freshman point guard Andre Curbelo is back and would make a formidable one-two punch with Cockburn, who averaged 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds and shot 65.4 percent from the field as a sophomore last season. The pitch from Illinois: This would be his team now and the NIL market with a fan base that already knows him and would adore him for the decision to return would be significant.