CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — With Kofi Cockburn electing to turn pro and skip a fourth season with the Illini, the team’s newest frontcourt player Dain Dainja is in a position to be a significant contributor for Illinois. The 6-foot-9, 270 pound Baylor transfer arrived to Champaign in January after spending a year and a half at Baylor. The Minnesota native has only played in three games totaling nine minutes of college basketball but was a 4-star, Top 100 player out of high school. Dainja has spent his time at Illinois so far working out with strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher, losing 20 pounds so far, according to head coach Brad Underwood.

“He’s been an unrelenting worker,” Underwood said. “I’ve been so impressed with his commitment to work, he’s a three workout a day guy and he has not waivered on his diet. Gone a week and you almost don’t recognize him. A guy with just a different skillset than what we’ve had. Elite handles, elite passer, right hand, left hand, for a guy that big, you know I call him a dancing bear. He’s just got really light on his feet, he’s got some quick twitch to him.”

Dainja redshirted his freshman season with the Bears with an injury, then only played in three games for Baylor last season before transferring mid-season to Illinois. He was forced to sit out as a result and will compete for minutes in the frontcourt alongside Coleman Hawkins, Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk and Brandon Lieb.