The player everyone assumes will be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft has announced his decision to go pro. Cade Cunningham, the consensus All-American guard for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, told the assembled media in Stillwater on Thursday morning that he will forgo his final three years of collegiate eligibility and head to the NBA.
Official: Cade Cunningham has declared for the NBA Draft.
— Marshall Scott (@Marshall_Once) April 1, 2021
Cunningham, the No. 1 recruit in the country in the 2020 recruiting class, spent one year in Stillwater and frequently reminded the basketball watching world why he’s such a coveted prospect. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.6 steals in 35.4 minutes per game for the Pokes en route to being named the Big 12 Player of the Year, the first freshman to win that honor since Marcus Smart. Oklahoma State went 21-9 this season and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Oregon State.
As an NBA prospect, Cunningham is viewed as the kind of big, dynamic playmaker that teams covet right now. Cunningham stands 6’8 and is blessed with remarkable court vision and basketball IQ, and despite the fact that his assist numbers were not especially high, the Cowboys struggled to shoot the ball — only one player was a consistent threat from behind the three-point line this season, and that was Cunningham, who connected on 40 percent of his triples, many of which were unassisted. This is a very good Draft class, with guys like USC’s Evan Mobley and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs among those that have cases to be taken with the top selection, but right now, it’s hard to see Cunningham going anywhere other than No. 1, regardless of which team wins the Lottery.