Top recruit Cade Cunningham still going to Oklahoma State despite postseason ban


Potential No. 1 NBA draft pick Cade Cunningham announced Monday that he is sticking with his commitment to Oklahoma State despite the NCAA giving the Cowboys a postseason ban for next season.

Cunningham had considered other options over the past couple of weeks, including the G League and professional routes overseas, sources told ESPN. He was always unlikely to go to another college.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions earlier this month placed Oklahoma State on three years of probation and banned the Cowboys from playing in postseason tournaments next season. Those sanctions stemmed from a Level I violation involving former associate head coach Lamont Evans.

Oklahoma State has said it is appealing the NCAA penalties.

Cunningham, the No. 2 prospect in the ESPN 100 for 2020 and the No. 1 pick in ESPN’s 2021 mock draft, originally announced his commitment to Oklahoma State back in November. He chose the Cowboys after taking official visits to North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Washington, in addition to Oklahoma State. Cunningham’s brother, Cannen, is an assistant coach at Oklahoma State; he was hired by head coach Mike Boynton last June, and the Cowboys were the clear favorite from that point.

“I’ve talked to Cade probably more in the last four years than anybody outside of his family,” Boynton said Monday on a conference call. “And we have a very, very strong relationship outside of basketball; there are actually often times that I’ve talked to Cade in the last three and a half years that basketball wasn’t even a topic of discussion. It was truly about how do I help him, through the experiences I’ve had, be successful in the things he’s trying to accomplish.

“But the conversations the last couple weeks were really about all the options that he had. And I’ll be perfectly honest — and I was with some of the rest of the guys on the team — he probably had the most options of anybody else in this conversation, including me. And that’s perfectly fine; he earned that and he’s worked to put himself in that position. And so it was really about, ‘Hey, let’s look at everything; let’s be honest about what the options are; let’s talk about the pros, because there are pros — not necessarily professional, but there are good things about all the options — and there may be some negatives in each of them.’ I just wanted to make sure that he was clear that I wasn’t gonna try and insert an agenda on him. Like I said, for the last four years, that’s not been the conversation; I wasn’t gonna change it now.

“I think he felt most comfortable that moving forward, if he was gonna do anything with anybody, it was gonna be here with this group, with his family being a part of it, and thankfully with me being his head coach.”

A 6-foot-7 point guard, Cunningham is expected to be one of the best players in college basketball next season. He was named Naismith National High School Player of the Year this season after leading Montverde Academy (Florida) to a 25-0 record. He averaged 23.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists on the Nike EYBL circuit last spring and summer for the Texas Titans grassroots program, and won a gold medal with the USA Basketball U19 National Team, averaging 11.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.

Cunningham is the top-ranked recruit in program history.





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