Thanks to the arrival of star freshman Cade Cunningham in 2020, Oklahoma State's men's basketball program was able to produce arguably its best season since the Eddie Sutton era, which included a Final Four run in 2004. Cunningham, a 6-8 point guard, was a unique blend of size, skill and shooting at the college level, and a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
Here's everything you need to know about Cunningham's college career.
Cade Cunningham's college basketball stats, vitals
School: Oklahoma State
Weight: 220 pounds
Years active: 2020-21
NCAA tournament record: 1-1
Career averages: 20.1 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game, 1.6 steals per game, 43.8% shooting, 40.0% 3-point shooting
What was Cade Cunningham's record in college?
In the 27 games that Cade Cunningham played during his freshman season, Oklahoma State went 19-8.
What kind of prospect was Cade Cunningham in high school?
Cunningham was ranked as the No. 1 high school player in the 2020 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
What was Cade Cunningham's game like?
Thanks to his size and skill set, Cunningham's game in college was versatile because he's 6-8 and 220 pounds, yet he also ran Oklahoma State's offense and shot 40 percent from behind the arc. Cunningham was both the Cowboys' leading scorer at 20 points per game and he led the team in assist rate, as he assisted on more than 20 percent of Oklahoma State's made baskets when he was on the floor, per kenpom.com.
Unlike many point guards, Cunningham wasn't a lightning-quick player in college, but he used his frame, vision and developed handles to create angles and get around defenders.
Given his size, he could spend time in the low post, especially if he had a smaller defender guarding him.
Defensively, he was able to use his long arms to step into passing lanes and steal opponents' passes.
What were some of Cade Cunningham's best games?
Here are some of Cunningham's best games in college:
Oklahoma State 75, UT-Arlington 68 | Nov. 25, 2020
In Cunningham's college debut, he posted a double-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in a winning effort, with a pair of 3-pointers, as he showed his versatility against UT-Arlington.
Oklahoma State 84, Oakland 71| Dec. 5, 2020
In a 14-point win over Oakland, Cunningham scored more than 12 points for the fourth consecutive game (he finished with 18 on 6-for-13 shooting), while posting a season-high eight assists, making three 3-pointers and all three of his free throw attempts.
Oklahoma State 94, Oklahoma 90 | Feb. 27, 2021
In his first game against rival Oklahoma, Cunningham went off for a season-high 40 points on an efficient 12-for-21 shooting, thanks to his 14 free throw attempts (he made 13) and three 3-pointers. He also grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds, giving him his second double-double of the season.
Texas 91, Oklahoma State 86 | March 13, 2021
Cunningham led Oklahoma State to the Big 12 tournament championship game, where the Cowboys narrowly fell to Texas, but Cunningham did his part to try to win the conference tournament title as he scored 29 points, which was tied for the second-most of his freshman season, along with three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
What awards did Cade Cunningham win in college?
Here are some of the awards and honors Cunningham received in college:
- Consensus first-team All-American
- USBWA National Freshman of the Year
- NABC Freshman of the Year
- Big 12 Player of the Year
- Big 12 Freshman of the Year
- First-team All-Big 12
- Big 12 All-Newcomer Team
What did people say about Cade Cunningham?
Former Texas coach Shaka Smart, after Texas defeated Oklahoma State 77-74: "There's a reason everybody has got him as the No. 1 (NBA) pick."
Former Texas Longhorn Greg Brown, after Texas defeated Oklahoma State: "Of course there was trash talk. I love Cade. That's my dog. Two great players going at it. We're brothers off the court but enemies on the court."
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton, after Cunningham had a 5-for-22 shooting performing in Oklahoma State's double-overtime win over Texas: "He's a 19-year-old and still figuring it out. I'd love for him to make the right play every time. . . Texas' length bothered him some but he stuck with it."
Former Oklahoma guard Austin Reaves, after Cunningham scored 40 points against Oklahoma: "He's not predicted No. 1 for no reason. He's a player. We knew he was a really good player, and he performed tonight, to say the least."
Oklahoma State guard Bryce Williams, after Oklahoma State swept Oklahoma: "Cade just takes the pressure off the rest of us. He's got so much pressure on him, but it's not really pressure to him. He can handle the situation. But he's got a team behind him that can back him up every day."
Williams, continued: "He's a great player. Not to take nothing from my guy, but we're a great team at the end of the day. We've got all the pieces. We have all the finishers, all the playmakers, all the shooters. We feel like we can play with whoever."
Oklahoma State guard Avery Anderson III, after Oklahoma State defeated Liberty in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament: "Cade's shots were falling in the first half, but he saw throughout the game that they would start falling, and that was big time."
Boynton, after Oklahoma State defeated Liberty: "I don't really worry about Cade. I think everybody else worries about him a lot more than I do. First of all, I've known the kid since he was 14. I know how he's wired and I know that he wants to play to win. And if that means he's got to score 10 points and get other guys involved and allow other guys like Avery Anderson or Matthew-Alexander (Moncrieffe) to kind of carry the load offensively, he's comfortable with that."
Cade Cunningham quotes
Cunningham, after West Virginia defeated Oklahoma State 87-84: "I think the biggest thing is you have to value every possession. I think we got too comfortable, really. You have to respect the game. I think we kind of lost sight of, if we don't play the right way, it's going to come back to haunt you."
Cunningham, after Oklahoma State lost at Kansas: "Looking at the numbers the last couple games, I probably lead the country in turnovers. I had the ball in my hands a bunch throughout the game. I'm asked to make a lot of plays — that's what I asked for. I want the ball in my hands. I have to limit those turnovers and help us get shots."
Cunningham, after scoring a season-high 40 points in an overtime win over rival Oklahoma: "I think getting the win was how I wanted to put my plant on Bedlam. I have a trust in my coaches and teammates allowing me to get 40, but I think we all played to win, and that's what I'm most happy about."
Cunningham, after Oregon State eliminated Oklahoma State from the 2021 NCAA tournament: "It's been special. I think that's the best way to describe it. I think the biggest thing is I surrounded myself around great people, more than anything that's the thing I'm most proud of. That's the thing, I feel like I've grown up the most by being around good people who pushed me to be somebody good on the court and off the court. I'm going to miss it, for sure."