The day the NCAA announced that Oklahoma State would be facing a one-year postseason ban, all eyes turned to No. 1 recruit Cade Cunningham for a response.
A tweet that read: “Black lives matter!”
Black lives matter! ✊🏽— Cade Cunningham (@CadeCunningham_) June 5, 2020
He knew the spotlight would be on him that day, so he decided to bring attention to an important social issue rather than appease people with a recommitment.
“The reason for me tweeting it out, I knew that it was the perfect time to do it because it’s something that I really believed in,” Cunningham said. “But the NCAA sanctions had just came down and I knew everybody was looking at my page ready for anything so I feel like that was the best time for me to let my views on things be known.”
This further proves the notion that Cunningham is a master at blocking out the noise and staying focused on the things that matter-- which is something he learned from having sky-high expectations throughout his basketball career.
Whether it's questions about his initial commitment, recommitment or the status of the athletic department’s appeal, Cunningham refers back to two simple goals he has:
“I’m gonna try to get good grades and score a lot of points,” Cunningham said.
In fact, Cunningham is an enigma who likes to keep things vague. He knew he was staying at OSU within 24 hours of the sanctions, but didn’t officially reaffirm his commitment for another 17 days.
“I announced that I was gonna come back later just because I let the media do their thing,” Cunningham said. “It doesn’t really matter too much to me so I was just chilling away from my phone.
“I knew where I was going.”
This decision was in large part thanks to the coaching staff that coach Mike Boynton has built at OSU. Cunningham’s ultimate goal is to play at a high level in the NBA and he knows that, despite the ban, this coaching staff will help him reach that dream.
“After maybe a day, I knew who I wanted to play for,” Cunningham said. ‘I figured coach Boynton is such a great basketball mind, our whole staff is full of good basketball minds and I feel like that’s the biggest thing that’ll help me as a player is surrounding myself with people who really know the game.”
But aside from the postseason ban, the college basketball landscape is full of uncertainties right now. The COVID-19 pandemic is surging and many experts are predicting a second wave during the beginning of college basketball season.
However, as with most issues brought to him, Cunningham remains in his natural, unfazed state.
“There’s a lot of unknowns, but we're gonna prepare like there’s going to be a season and work as hard as we can in the offseason to get ready for it so that if they do say there is a season, we’re prepared and we’re gonna win games,” Cunningham said. “And if not, we’re still gonna train to be the best players that we can be until we do play basketball again.”