Remember all of that Kentucky buzz that came during and immediately following Cade Cunningham’s official visit to Lexington back in October?
This weekend, Corey Evans of Rivals.com confirmed that the talk was legit.
In an interview with Cats Illustrated insider and Sources Say Podcast co-host David Sisk – and shared by Tipton Edits on Instagram – Evans said that Cunningham was set to commit to Kentucky during his official visit for Big Blue Madness.
Instead of making his commitment official, though, his family talked him into holding off on an abrupt decision.
“Yes, he was as close as you could get to committing during the visit to Kentucky,” Evans told Sisk. “It took his mom and family pulling him off and kind of seeing the whole picture, and not just going off immediate reaction and committing.”
By the time we hit the home stretch of Cunningham’s recruitment, UK head coach John Calipari and his staff had publicly visited the nation’s No. 1 prospect and/or his family at his school or home, hosted him for a visit, or watched him at a major Nike EYBL event eight times since April. At the AAU events, you also have to factor in that the staff took the time to watch him play several times over the course of multiple days, not missing a single game.
In short, every single time Kentucky was legally allowed to contact Cunningham – both in person or on the phone – host him or watch him play, they did so.
Despite nearly sealing the deal on a commitment, Cunningham waited things out before ultimately deciding to play for his brother at Oklahoma State.
“I thank God for blessing me with this opportunity and those close to me for their love and support during this journey,” Cunningham said in his commitment video. “I loved all the schools I visited, and I appreciate each program for investing their time and energy into me. To be honest, I was this close to picking a different school, but blood is always thicker than water. Go Pokes.”
Fast forward seven months, and instead of gearing up to make it to campus in Stillwater, Cunningham now has a decision to make.
Friday morning, the NCAA announced it would be handing down its first punishment to a school tied to the college hoops scandal, giving Oklahoma State a one-year postseason ban for the upcoming season and three years of probation, among numerous other fines and recruiting limitations.
Following the punishment, Cowboys head coach Mike Boynton said he would support Cunningham “100 percent” whether he wanted to open his recruitment back up or follow through with his commitment to Oklahoma State.
“I’ll tell you what I told him — I didn’t spend four years recruiting him and telling him how much I care about him to now abandon what’s important,” Boynton said on a conference call with reporters, according to 247 Sports. “We’re gonna have conversations over the next few days, probably weeks, and we’re gonna try to look at all the options, whatever they are. G-League, overseas, another university, stay at Oklahoma State. At the end of the day, whatever his family and he decide is best for his future, I’m gonna get right in tow with that and I’m going to support him 100 percent.”
While the professional option is expected to also be in play, CBS Sports‘ Gary Parrish believes every finalist previously on Cunningham’s list will be back for round two if the five-star guard decides to open things up, with Kentucky being “front and center.”
“His brother is on staff, that probably matters, some,” Parrish said, “but I promise you, every school that was in there before he signed with Oklahoma State, they’ll be back in there right now. Kentucky probably front and center.”
Will Cunningham go back to the school he was “this close” to picking the first time around last fall? Will he explore his professional options? Will he back out of his commitment at all?
As Mike Boynton told reporters on Friday, expect some type of movement either way in the coming weeks.