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Cade Cunningham, college basketball’s top incoming freshman, has reaffirmed his commitment to Oklahoma State despite the program’s postseason ban.
Cunningham, a point guard ranked No. 1 in the class of 2020 by Rivals.com, announced his decision in a video posted Monday morning.
“Loyalty. It’s more than a word. It’s action,” Cunningham said in the video. “It’s standing by the people you started with and showing up even when times are hard. It’s believing in the people who always believed in you. It’s commitment. Now more than ever, I’m loyal and true. I’m committed. Stillwater, let’s work.”
The post from Cunningham ends a few weeks of uncertainty that followed the NCAA’s decision to sanction the Cowboys’ basketball program due to former assistant coach Lamont Evans’ involvement in the federal college basketball scandal. Evans pleaded guilty to a bribery charge in January 2019 for receiving $22,000 in an effort to steer players at South Carolina and Oklahoma State to a financial adviser.
In what could be a sign of things to come for programs like Kansas and Louisville, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions hit Oklahoma State with three years of probation and a one-year ban from postseason tournaments. Oklahoma State is appealing the penalties.
The decision from the NCAA came June 5 and left Cunningham — a surefire lottery pick in the 2021 NBA draft — with a choice: stick with Oklahoma State or pursue other options. Cunningham reportedly had a six-figure offer to join the NBA’s G-League or could have looked into professional options overseas.
He also could have considered other schools where a trip to the NCAA tournament is possible. Instead, the 6-foot-7 Cunningham opted to stick with head coach Mike Boynton’s program, a program that has his brother Cannen Cunningham on staff as an assistant coach.
Cunningham, who played high school ball at Montverde Academy in Florida, took official visits to Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida and Washington before ultimately choosing the Cowboys.
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