Projected No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham declares for 2021 NBA Draft

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Tyler Byrum
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Projected No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham declares for NBA Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Cade Cunningham, the top projected prospect of the 2021 NBA Draft class, has announced that he is declaring for the upcoming draft.

The decision was no surprise coming from the 6-foot-8 point guard, who has widely been regarded as the favorite to be selected first overall this year since his early high school days. 

Cunningham makes the jump to the NBA after playing his lone collegiate season with Oklahoma State. On Thursday, he and head coach Mike Boynton announced the decision in a press conference with reporters. 

"I was just blessed to have the opportunity to be able to enter the draft. I feel like I did a lot of the work early to be able to be in that position. When the time came, I feel like it was something I had to do for my future and my family's future," Cunningham said. "I'm excited to step into this next chapter in my life and see how it's going to go."

Owning a unique skill set for his length and size, Cunningham has long been thought of as the top prize for the upcoming draft. With the Cowboys, Cunningham was named an AP First-Team All-American and won the Wayman Tisdale Award for the top freshman in the country. He led the Big Ten in scoring this past season with 20.1 points per game at a 43.8% shooting clip while also posting 6.2 rebounds per game. 

Cunnigham is projected to be selected No. 1 in the latest NBC Sports Washington Mock Draft.

The left-handed dominant dribbler also made a huge impact on the defensive side of the ball. His feel for the game put him in position to disrupt opposing offenses and to step in for timely steals. Additionally, his frame makes him a versatile defender who can guard the arc and inside the paint. 

Throughout the season, Cunningham was known for big late-game runs where he would take over games and will OK State to a victory. 

At a 12-36 record, the Minnesota Timberwolves are the worst team in the NBA and in line to share the best odds to receive the top pick yet again this draft. The Detroit Pistons (13-34) and Houston Rockets (13-34) share a 14.0% chance at the first pick with the T-Wolves.

The Washington Wizards have the sixth-best odds of the No. 1 pick at 9.0% with the current standings entering play Thursday.