A major 2020 recruit might be back on the market and if that’s the case, Florida’s coaches might have some more recruiting to do.
Cade Cunningham, the #1 ranked player in the class of 2020, was committed to play for Oklahoma State but some big news that dropped put that into question. Former Cowboys assistant Lamont Evans was nailed for accepting bribes to steer players towards particular agents post-college and one of the penalties for his deed is a 2021 postseason ban. Because of this, many are speculating that Cunningham will be looking to play his one year of college elsewhere.
Cunningham’s brother was hired as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State which is considered the main reason he committed to play there. His brother Cannen Cunningham was hired by Oklahoma State despite, well, not exactly having the normal resume of a high-major assistant, to put it politely. He was coming off a stint as the associate video director of Tulane before getting hired as an assistant at Oklahoma State, so it’s pretty clear the Cowboys had their eyes on landing Cade Cunningham because of the hire.
Considering he committed to Oklahoma State despite the fact they don’t have a particularly stunning roster it might have been fair to say that he was alright going through college without playing in the postseason but allegedly that’s not the case and he is strongly looking at getting a release from his letter of intent and going elsewhere.
Before committing to the Cowboys Cunningham’s final five schools were Oklahoma State, Washington, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida. Playing his high school ball at Montverde Academy he was able to make multiple trips to Florida and it’s said he is best friends with Omar Payne, something that could work to Florida’s advantage should they look to pursue him.
While those are the schools to naturally look at if Cunningham leaves Oklahoma State there is another program to keep an eye on and that’s the G League. They’d be happy to pay Cunningham something in the range of $500,000 to spend his final year before the draft in their new development program and that would be a lot of money to turn down.
If he does leave Oklahoma State but stay in college Kentucky is considered to be the favorite here. Obviously they always have an upper hand in any recruitment for a top player, and man, Cunningham is just that. He’s one of the most polished scorers we’ve seen in a number of years with an incredibly developed ball handling game and a lethal jumper, not to mention the fact he’s arguably the best passer in the class. Oh, and he happens to be 6’7”. A point guard the size of a power forward who you can easily see being the best player in college basketball next year, you can see why he’s recruitment would be important.
Kentucky might have an edge in a potential second round of recruitment for Cunningham but the Gators should have a good case too. They just lost Andrew Nembhard which means the starting point guard spot is technically open (though Tyree Appleby is more than capable) and the Gators could sell him on the fact that they have far more established returning talent than Kentucky or the other teams on his list. He’d have the opportunity to lead an offense surrounded by great shooters like Noah Locke, Keyontae Johnson, and Tyree Appleby, and he’d do it playing next to his best friend Omar Payne.
Right now the Gators have one scholarship open though it’s assumed that Tre Mann will be withdrawing from the NBA Draft to claim it. That may mean the Gators are technically full, but if they have a realistic shot of landing Cunningham they’ll make it work.
This has already been a crazy offseason of player movement for the Gators but if Cade Cunningham is made available watch for things to potentially get even more wild.