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Top 2020 Prospect Cade Cunningham Talks Recruitment, Interest in Kentucky

To say last week served as a busy few days for Cade Cunningham, one of the top high school basketball prospects in the class of 2020, would be an understatement.

The 6’7 wing who is originally from Texas and played at Montverde Academy last year, just finished up school last Wednesday. He then flew back to Texas for a single night, before coming to Los Angeles for last weekend’s Pangos All-American Camp, where he competed against a slew of the best prospects in high school basketball. That included some of the top prospects in the class of 2020 (including a couple Kentucky targets) like Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes, Isaiah Todd and Dashien Nix, as well as some of the top players in the class of 2021, including Terrence Clarke, Paolo Banchero and others.

Yet despite the quick turnaround from finishing finals to one of the most competitive All-American camps in the country, Cunningham was taking it all in stride when he spoke to Kentucky Sports Radio on Friday night.

“It’s just good to be out for the summer,” Cunningham said with a smile. “Great to be here.”

It certainly appeared that way over the weekend, as Cunningham thrived against the elite competition at Pangos. Cunningham ended up winning Co-MVP of the event, as he showed off a versatile offensive game and ability to score from all three levels on the court, in addition to innate passing ability and court awareness. In the process, his play also solidified a quickly growing narrative on Cunningham: Even though he is ranked among the Top 10 prospects nationally, many recruiting analysts believe Cunningham is actually under-valued in some of their recruiting rankings. The hot talk right now is that if Cunningham continues on this upward trajectory throughout the summer, he will be ranked in the Top 5 by the end of the summer, and potentially as high as No. 2 behind Mobley, a center from California.

In terms of his recruitment, Cunningham recently cut his list down to a final 10 schools. He told KSR that he did that because he thought it was unfair to lead on schools that he had no interest in, and didn’t want to be “disrespectful” to coaches or waste their time.

With those 10 schools Cunningham claims he has no leader, although most recruiting experts seem to believe that while it’s early, Oklahoma State is in the driver’s seat. Which leads to the question most fans are asking: With offers from schools like Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas, what is it about Oklahoma State that has them at the top of Cunningham’s list? The answer is simple: Loyalty.

“Coach [Mike] Boynton, he was the first coach to offer me when he was an assistant,” said of Boynton, who is now the Cowboys’ head coach. “So we’ve had a good connection, relationship since then.”

Most experts believe that right behind Oklahoma State is Kentucky, the blue blood of all blue bloods. Cunningham has long been an admirer of Kentucky’s, dating all the way back to the John Wall, “One and Fun” days of 2010.

“That’s the first team I remember,” Cunningham said of his history with Kentucky.

For the Wildcats, the biggest sell remains that Kentucky is a pathway to the NBA. The staff itself has sold Cunningham that he could have a similar impact as Keldon Johnson, who just completed his freshman season and may end up as a lottery pick this spring.

“Coach Cal is great,” he said. “It’s hard not to take a look at that track record and take them seriously.”

Again however, it’s early and Cunningham went on to admit that a lot of other big-time schools are in the mix. He said that he likes Florida because one of his best friends, Omar Payne (another Montverde product) recently enrolled there. He added that Washington head coach Mike Hopkins is a “genuine guy” and the two hit it off right away. Cunningham also described Texas as “the home state school.”

But again, it’s early and don’t look for much movement in Cunningham’s recruitment for a bit.

For those looking to catch Cunningham in action, he is one of 34 players who was invited to try out for the Team USA U-19 team which will compete in Greece later this summer. Training camp will take place June 15th through 18th, with games tipping off on June 24th.

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.”