Six months after picking Oklahoma State, SI All-American Cade Cunningham reaffirmed his commitment to the Cowboys Monday morning.
Earlier this month when the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced that it was placing Oklahoma State on probation for three years and banning the Cowboys from postseason play next season due to a violation by former associate head coach Lamont Evans, rumors swirled that Cunningham would opt for the G League’s professional pathway program or even choose another college.
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Still, sources tell Sports Illustrated that Cunningham never seriously considered shifting his allegiance. His older brother, Cannen, is an assistant for the Cowboys and Cunningham was always firm in his decision after picking the Cowboys over North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Washington.
So, what does it all mean?
The short answer is that the potential Big 12 regular season champs could be left watching while teams compete to be the final team featured on the JumboTron at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis while “One Shining Moment” blasts through the speakers.
With Cunningham running a team with weapons like Donovan Williams, Ferron Flavors, Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe, Rondel Walker and others, the Cowboys have a legitimate chance at a special season. As it stands only two players, Yor Anei and Hidde Roessink, have decided to transfer amid the NCAA’s penalties, which Oklahoma State said it plans to appeal.
Why no mass exodus?
Every 2020 recruit in Oklahoma State’s class has expressed their excitement with getting the opportunity to play with Cunningham because his wide-array of skills and abilities makes the game easier and his style and willingness to share makes the game more fun for players, thus making them more productive.
A “win-win” as Alexander-Moncrieffe told Sports Illustrated when he committed in February.
Makes sense for a guy in the top spot on Sports Illustrated’s NBA draft big board for 2021.
Last summer, Cunningham was named MVP of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League after averaging 23.8 points, seven rebounds and 5.3 assists for the Texas Titans.
This past season, the SI All-American first teamer was the engine that drove Montverde (Fla.) Academy to a 25–0 record and a consensus No. 1 ranking in the country. Despite playing alongside five other SI All-American nominees, Cunningham averaged 14 points while shooting 47% from the three-point line, five rebounds and five assists a game despite playing half the game most times. The Eagles beat teams by an average of 40 points a game.
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Cunningham’s Eagles were so good the buzz was getting louder all season that they were potentially the best team ever.
This past March he learned that he’d never get to add to his legend and pursue the GEICO Nationals championship with Montverde; the tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Next March, at least for now, Cunningham and the Cowboys will be left with a similar “what if” scenario.