Cade Cunningham made Oklahoma State the happiest fan base in the country on Monday when he reaffirmed his commitment to the Cowboys.
Earlier this month 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.
“When the news first broke out, it’s easy to immediately think, ‘Let’s get some money,” Cunningham said. “I knew that I wanted to stay at Oklahoma State, but I felt like I had to check my other options."
Cunningham pointed to his relationship with head coach Mike Boynton as a major reason he decided to remain Stillwater bound.
“My relationship with Coach Boynton trumped everything else,” Cunningham said. “That's who I wanted to play for, it wasn't too hard at the end of the day."
Cunningham did admit that the reality of not being able to pursue a national title next season stung, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic kept him from pursuing a national title with Montverde (Fla.) Academy this season.
The Eagles were the consensus No. 1 team in the country with a 25-0 record and a buzz that put them in the conversation for best high school team ever assembled.
Oklahoma State plans to appeal the NCAA’s decision.
“It definitely was tough,” Cunningham said of not being able to pursue a national title. “But I still feel like we can have enough success this year to really make a change in the program and turn things around.”
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. The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Cunningham played just half of the game most times. The Eagles beat teams by an average of 40 points a game.
Cunningham was subsequently named to the SI All-American first team.
As for his goals next season for the Cowboys, Cunningham said the Big 12 regular season title is in his sights. Cunningham is scheduled to report to Stillwater on Friday.
“The goal is to not lose any games this year,” Cunningham said. “That's a tough task being in the Big 12, but we're gonna compete for sure, that's no question. I’m happy at Oklahoma State; this is where I want to be.”