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Oklahoma State coach shares the message he’s delivered to Cade Cunningham

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

It’s been three full months since college basketball season ended, with four full months until it begins, and while June isn’t usually a big time for college hoops news, this year is the exception. The biggest news comes out of Stillwater, where the Oklahoma State Cowboys have been put on probation and given a one-year postseason ban. And because of it, Cade Cunningham – the No. 1 high school player in America, and a one-time Kentucky recruit – has had his future put in the air.

Cunningham has no shortage of options, ranging from staying at Oklahoma State, transferring to another school or going pro. And while both Jack Pilgrim and I believe that the best bet is that he stays at Oklahoma State, it is a situation worth at least monitoring for Kentucky fans.

It’s a question that I posed to Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton when I welcomed him to this week’s episode of KSR’s Aaron Torres Podcast. You can listen to the full interview below, where Boynton and I discuss a wide-ranging list of topics, ranging from the Cowboys battle with the NCAA to what’s next for the school.

But the biggest topic remains the future of Cunningham. And to Boynton’s credit he was very direct when asked about his star recruit.

“Every player on my roster, if you include him and the rest of the recruiting class that’s on the roster, they all have options,” Boynton said. “He probably has more options than anybody because of the professional element out there for him. But there’s no real update, we are still trying to gather information and see what the process is going to look like.”

He continued.

“So for me, it’s just about making sure there’s clarity for him and how we’re approaching it. And that we have honest conversations about what the options are. And I’m not in the position to try and sway him from doing what he wants to do. My job is to help him understand what each options means. There’s upside and maybe a little downside to every situation. Whether it be overseas in Europe or on another continent, going to the G-League, going to another college, or sticking with Oklahoma State. Every situation is going to present some positives and probably some negatives.”

It’s a commendable stance by Boynton, especially since it could mean potentially losing a program-altering recruit in Cunningham. The Cowboys went 18-14 last season, and probably would have been an NCAA Tournament bubble team had the squad not gone 1-3 when star Isaac Likekele missed four games. With several key pieces back plus the addition of Cunningham and a Top 10 ranked recruiting class, Oklahoma State should be a tourney team – if they can win an NCAA appeal.

So yes, there are reasons for Cunningham to return to Oklahoma State, even if a trip to the NCAA Tournament isn’t a guarantee (or even necessarily likely). Another reason is the relationship that Cunningham has built with the entire coaching staff at Oklahoma State. Yes, that includes Cunningham’s brother Cannen, but also the relationship he built with Boynton himself. Boynton was the first person to offer Cunningham a scholarship, back when he was just 14-years-old.

“I haven’t said this much,” Boynton began. “But I thought Cade was the best player in the country before anybody, including him. And our relationship really was built just on genuine appreciation on what I thought he could become if he had an intentional work ethic. And he does.”

This deal with his brother, I don’t want to discount it. It’s real. I hired him, he’s on my staff. He’s a good friend, he’s a good dude, he’s going to be a great coach. But I didn’t even have a conversation with Cannen, Cade’s brother, for two years before I hired him. I recruited Cade for two years before I ever had a conversation with Cannen. My relationship with Cade is even stronger than my relationship with Cannen. And in fact, in this whole situation, I haven’t talked to Cannen about Cade. I’ve talked to Cade about Cade. Because it’s about him, it’s not about his brother. His brother has his own deal that he’s doing and if he comes here, that will be a big part of them enjoying this experience together. And that will be awesome to see.”

Overall, the conversation with Boynton is fascinating and should provide the best context yet on what actually went on at Oklahoma State and what is next for the school.

To download the full episode to your phone, click here.

And to listen to the episode, click below.

Article written by Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres is covering football and basketball for KSR this season after four years at Fox Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook or e-mail at [email protected] He is also the author of the only book written on the Calipari era, “One and Fun: A Behind the Scenes Look at John Calipari and the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats.”

8 Comments for Oklahoma State coach shares the message he’s delivered to Cade Cunningham

  1. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    8:19 pm June 15, 2020 Permalink

    I recruited the kid for 2 years and realized we only had no real chance, so I hired his brother to get an actual have a shot to get him.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      8:21 pm June 15, 2020 Permalink

      This is what happens when you don’t proofread cause the bis is about to go in a tunnel.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      8:21 pm June 15, 2020 Permalink


  2. SuperTroy18
    8:38 pm June 15, 2020 Permalink

    He says there’s negatives with every option. What’s the negative if he comes to Lexington?! Overseas, sure. Even G-League would probably have a negative or two. Obviously Ok. St. has the biggest. Is the only negative with not staying in Stillwater that he won’t get to have a season with his brother? Because I’d think that’s a small price to pay for the chance at a ring somewhere else, even if it isn’t in blue and white.

  3. WKY Cat
    10:18 pm June 15, 2020 Permalink

    There’s literally nothing to indicate he’s interested in coming to Kentucky yet we keep posting articles about him.

    • Alex90
      10:35 pm June 15, 2020 Permalink

      Gotta build interest for clicks…clicks equal money

    • ibescootch
      6:00 am June 16, 2020 Permalink

      Other than the fact that he’s essentially an open recruit again, and leaned heavily towards KY?

  4. millertim
    11:16 am June 16, 2020 Permalink

    Haha… he doesn’t talk to Cade’s brother about Cade… what a JOKE. Does anyone seriously believe that… and the brother was hired as a major D-1 coach b/c of his long and storied experience as a coach…