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With a decision on the horizon, Kentucky’s recruiting timeline with Cade Cunningham is flat-out absurd

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On Monday evening, Kentucky head coach John Calipari paid yet another visit to 2020 No. 2 overall prospect Cade Cunningham, a massive development considering the 6-foot-7 guard is in the final stages of his recruitment.

Cunningham, who took an official visit this weekend to Washington, in addition to previous trips to Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Florida, and Kentucky, is now finished with his allotment of official visits. After publicly stating he would like to get his decision over with prior to his senior season at Montverde Academy, along with setting a specific timeline/deadline of “late November,” things are expected to ramp up immediately.

But how did we get to this point? And more importantly, how did the Kentucky program establish itself as one of the favorites heading down the final stretch?

April 26-28, 2019: Nike EYBL 

The 2019 Nike EYBL circuit tipped off in Atlanta, Georgia on April 26, with the event setting a record for the most ESPN top-100 participating prospects of all time.

One of the elite targets in attendance? 2020 five-star guard Cade Cunningham.

Cunningham, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound prospect out of Arlington, TX, had received interest from Kentucky in the past and the coaching staff had seen him play at several events, but this was the first time things got fairly serious on UK’s end.

And they certainly got to see an impressive performance.

In session one of the most competitive AAU circuit year after year, Cunningham was a man amongst boys. In four games of action, the elite guard prospect averaged 25.5 points on 62% shooting and 37% from three, doing just about everything you can think of for his Texas Titans team. He drove the basket at will, bullied defenders in the paint, brought the ball up the floor, rebounded, defended, and above all else, won. His Titans went 4-0 on the weekend, and looked dominant just about every time they touched the floor.

John Calipari, Kenny Payne, Joel Justus, and Tony Barbee all watched Cunningham at various points of the weekend.

April 29, 2019: Kentucky offers Cade Cunningham

It didn’t take a single day following Cunningham’s elite performance at the opening session of the EYBL regular season for Coach Cal to extend a scholarship offer.

Kentucky joined the likes of Duke, Kansas, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Texas, LSU, and Florida as players to extend scholarship offers.

May 10-12, 2019 and May 24-26, 2019: EYBL season continues

Unlike session one, which took place during the NCAA Evaluation Period, sessions two (Indianapolis) and three (Dallas) of the Nike EYBL regular season were closed to coaches. While they were allowed to watch on a live stream online, they could not attend either event in person.

In eight games during this span, Cunningham averaged 24.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.75 assists, 1.25 steals, and 1.25 blocks per contest.

During this time, Oklahoma State buzz began growing louder, while Kentucky’s momentum – they once held 100% of Cunningham’s picks on his Crystal Ball on 247Sports – faded a bit.

May 30, 2019: Cunningham cuts his list to 10

The week after session three of the EYBL season in Dallas, the five-star guard trimmed his list down to ten schools.

The final contenders? Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

June 25, 2019: Cunningham’s brother, Cannen Cunningham, hired at Oklahoma State

Fast forward a little less than a month, and Oklahoma State announced the hiring of Cunningham’s brother, Cannen Cunningham.

Leading up to this announcement and immediately following, the Cowboys received 11 consecutive picks on the 6-foot-7 guard’s Crystal Ball, including from the likes of Evan Daniels, Andrew Slater, Brian Snow, and Jerry Meyer.

July 1, 2019: Cunningham says his brother’s hiring isn’t major deciding factor in recruitment

In an interview with Evan Daniels of 247Sports, the five-star guard said he’s still “very open to everybody,” even with his brother being hired at Oklahoma State.

“I don’t think it does [matter to me], very much,” Cunningham said. “I’m still very open to everybody. A lot of people feel like I’m going to announce my commitment soon or something, and that’s not the case. Obviously, I wanted my brother to take the job, it’s an incredible opportunity for him.”

In his eyes, while Oklahoma State remained as a solid option for him, it’d be a mistake for other schools to stop recruiting him based off this news alone.

“I still like Oklahoma State, obviously that’s a big factor in my recruitment, but if a school wants to stop recruiting me because of it, that’s their problem,” he said. “I’m still open, and I’m not choosing anybody right now.”

July 10-14, 2019: Cunningham dominates at Peach Jam

At the 2019 Nike Peach Jam Finals in North Augusta, SC, Cunningham stole the show once again.

In five games, the five-star guard averaged 24.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.o assists per contest, finishing No. 7 overall among scorers during the EYBL season.

During the hectic recruiting weekend, where hundreds of head coaches and assistants lined the courts to watch the nation’s best battle head-to-head, Cunningham again told reporters he was wide open in the recruiting process.

“When the news broke about [my brother’s] hiring, everybody was going crazy saying my recruitment was over,” Cunningham said. “I wanted my brother to take the job because he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around. It’s an incredible opportunity for him, and I feel like he’ll do great there.”

Like before, he added that if other schools decided to stop recruiting him, that’s their loss.

“The schools that have stayed solid with me have been great because our relationship has really grown,” the five-star guard said. “I’m not gonna ask any schools to stay in touch. That’s on them. I’m happy for my brother, and he’ll be happy for me no matter what I do. That’s all that matters.”

Calipari, Justus, Payne, and Barbee all watched Cunningham throughout the event, with at least one representative from Kentucky watching Cunningham every time he took the floor.

August 1, 2019: Cunningham cuts list to five

When the dust of Peach Jam and AAU season finally settled, Cunningham officially announced his final five schools in contention.

Those remaining on the list? Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Washington.

Not long after the list cut, a source close to the Kentucky basketball program told KSR that while they were well aware of the Oklahoma State rumblings, they would “continue to monitor [Cunningham’s] situation” and would go “all-in” if the situation presented itself.

September 6, 2019: Cunningham officially visits Oklahoma State

After cutting his list to five, the next order of business was to schedule official visits in the coming weeks.

First up? The longtime favorite Oklahoma State Cowboys.

September 9, 2019: John Calipari visits Cade Cunningham

To start the fall recruiting period, Calipari could have gone anywhere in the country to visit any potential recruit or current commitment he wanted.

His choice? Cade Cunningham on an early morning trip to his school, Montverde Academy in Florida.

September 15, 2019: John Calipari and Tony Barbee visit Cade Cunningham’s family 

Less than a week after seeing the No. 2 overall prospect at Montverde, the UK coaching staff decided to visit the five-star guard’s closest family and friends for an in-home in Arlington, TX.

September 27, 2019: Cunningham officially visits North Carolina

After a brief break intermission, Cunningham made his second official, this time to Chapel Hill to visit North Carolina.

October 3, 2019: Tony Barbee visits Cade Cunningham

Just a day before his official visit to Florida, Kentucky sent assistant Tony Barbee to check in on their prized five-star guard target.

October 4, 2019: Cunningham officially visits Florida

Cunningham’s third official visit? Gainesville, FL to check out the Gators.

October 7, 2019: John Calipari visits Cade Cunningham

On the Monday immediately following Cunningham’s trip to Florida and just a week before his official visit to Lexington, sources told KSR that John Calipari made a special trip to Montverde Academy to see the elite five-star guard.

October 11, 2019: Cunningham officially visits Kentucky

Four days later, Cunningham took his official visit to Kentucky, where he attended Big Blue Madness alongside 2020 Kentucky commitments Terrence Clarke and Lance Ware.

After Big Blue Madness, the five-star guard stuck around and happily took pictures and signed autographs with Kentucky fans for over 15 minutes before a member of the UK staff had to usher him to the back.

October 13, 2019: Evan Daniels picks Kentucky for Cunningham

The day after the nation’s No. 2 prospect finished up his official visit to Lexington, recruiting insider Evan Daniels submitted a Crystal Ball pick for the 6-foot-7 superstar in favor of Kentucky.

With a 94.47% all-time success rate, including 100% in 2019 alone, it’s obvious Daniels doesn’t miss often.

And for him to go against the Oklahoma State trend, even when 100% of predictions were in favor of the Cowboys on his Crystal Ball, it was significant news.

October 18, 2019: Cunningham officially visits Washington

To close out his official visits, the 6-foot-7 guard took his fifth and final trip to Seattle to check out the Washington Huskies.

October 21, 2019: John Calipari visits Cade Cunningham

On Monday evening, Calipari took his fourth visit to see Cunningham and/or his family in six weeks.

Looking at the list above, Calipari’s visit also marked the eighth time (at least publicly) the Kentucky staff met with Cunningham and/or his family at his school or home, hosted him for a visit, or watched him at a major Nike EYBL event since April alone. 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 .

This also doesn’t even include the calls and text messages the parties have exchanged during open recruiting periods.

In short, every single time Kentucky has legally been allowed to contact Cunningham – both in person or on the phone – host him or watch him play, they have done so.

With Cunningham in the home stretch of his recruitment, it’s apparent Kentucky has gone above and beyond to let the five-star guard know he is their top priority in the class of 2020. I’d venture to say the staff has never been more persistent and relentless as they have in this specific recruitment since Calipari has been in Lexington.

Will their efforts pay off? We’ll find out soon enough.

And if the Wildcats do come out on top, they have certainly earned the right to tap themselves on the back. They will have earned it.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

37 Comments for With a decision on the horizon, Kentucky’s recruiting timeline with Cade Cunningham is flat-out absurd

  1. BBN4LIFE03
    5:55 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Hey jack, when you planning on releasing the sources say podcast?

    • Jack Pilgrim
      6:09 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      Recording now! It’ll be up tonight.

    • BBN4LIFE03
      6:12 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      K thanks for responding!

    • standuplex
      7:27 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      Where can I listen to the podcast? Sorry if thats a dumb question. Just not really a podcast listner but read here often. Really intersted in hearing thus tho

    • 4everUKBlue
      7:33 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      Not that dumb, I believe it will be posted on this site.

    • standuplex
      8:07 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink


  2. World Wide Wes
    5:57 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Done. Deal. Jack keep killing it.

  3. WildcatNation
    5:58 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    I’m hoping that they’ve locked him up but you never know

  4. 4everUKBlue
    5:59 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Jack I’ve been seeing some say he will announce either tonight or tomorrow. When you think he will announce and are gaining even more ground?

    • boldry5918
      6:03 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      Jack, great to hear this movement on Cade and I hope for announcement soon, but have you heard anymore word on the silent comment that BJ was talking about last week?

    • KYjellyRoll
      7:28 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      Bj secret is Cade

    • bigbluenationmbb
      8:06 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      Boston’s secret hinted towards a forward I’ve heard it paulo

    • WildcatNation
      6:08 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      I’ve seen the same things but I’ve also seen someone say he wasn’t close to making a decision.. idk who to trust

  5. TOMCATS1990
    6:02 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Lock him up

    • Bluehender
      11:01 am October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Who exactly are you talking about?

    • King_tucky
      7:33 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      I assume that he is refering to C.Cunningham.
      Like Trump going for Hillary….
      “Lock him up,Lock him up,Lock him up !!!”
      Make UK Basketball Recruiting Great again

    • King_tucky
      7:39 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Not that it wasn’t ever great. Cal is the one who changed the game. And anyone else tries to do what he does fails. Give us 1 2 n 3 in recruiting n see if he don’t make it work. Even if they all play the same position

  6. Kojohnson
    6:14 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    So after every official visit. They went and saw him. Thats dedication. Cal has never recruited anyone like this. Cade should see this and think Cal really believes he can be the best guard he has ever coached. I think we got him

    • mashburnfan1
      6:53 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      probably to see how much they offered so we can increase ours. You know if he chooses any place but UK the idiots on here will be saying cash won, etc. Recruiting is, and always has been, a dirty business by ALL teams and coaches.

    • nocode96
      7:07 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      You still around? Was kinda hoping old age and senility got you. Oh well, please, continue to entertain us with your verbal diarrhea.

    • 4everUKBlue
      7:09 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      That’s a prime example of why you’re so disliked mashbum, you are the idiot and after you telling me no need to name call because at the end of the day we are all fans. You are no fan of UK basketball, get the hell out of here. This is an example of your being a liar. You say Cal cheats but NO ONE has ever shown any proof and you haven’t either so STFU!

    • 4everUKBlue
      7:11 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      nocode, I don’t know about old age but senility has obviously kicked in. What a damned idiot! I can call him an idiot because he’s no UK basketball fan, I don’t give a damn how many football games he drives to.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      12:28 am October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Little Mashy why would him playing for his brother involve money? Heck I’ve heard more people saying Stoops had to have paid somebody with the people he’s beat. Don’t believe it.

    • 4everUKBlue
      8:42 am October 23, 2019 Permalink

      mashbum always has been and always will be the turd in the punchbowl. I would bet his wife or husband even hates him.

  7. EK
    6:14 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink


  8. Headhurts
    6:18 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Wow! If he ain’t feeling the love after all that then forgetaboutit.

  9. mashman 93
    6:20 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Cal is recruiting like a man possessed!!!! Jack please hurry and get the podcast up man I can hardly wait man. GO BIG BLUE!!!

  10. TonyMontana
    6:39 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    I read that Florida is making an in-home visit with him tomorrow. Anybody else see that?

    • mashman 93
      8:05 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

      That is what I read on “house of blue” earlier today

  11. Flan
    6:43 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Thanks for doing this timeline Jack! It really puts in perspective the work they’ve done. Loving this re-inspired Cal!!

  12. mashman 93
    6:45 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Hey Jack, I read a guys comment in “House of Blue” and he read(didn’t say where) that Cade was talking to Florida head coach Mike White. Have you heard that and if you’re to busy recording that’s cool.

  13. Han
    8:00 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Honestly, I’m still just thrilled we got Clarke to join Boston, Ware and Fletcher. Cunningham and the others we hopefully get are like a second helping.

  14. BigBertha
    9:03 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    The suspense is killing me!

    I love it. It’s been a minute since I’ve been this anxious for a recruit.

  15. Nickerbocker05
    9:15 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Cade Cunningham is and will be the prized recruit when we get him! Hands down ppl. Dude could have been #1 player in this past class.

  16. SuperTroy18
    10:06 pm October 22, 2019 Permalink

    Going by his facial expressions in pics wearing every team’s jersey, I’d say he’s either UK or Washington. His face in that UNC pic is VERY telling. Haha. And he’s so ashamed to be wearing the Florida jersey, he won’t even look at the camera!

  17. Saiyanj717
    12:12 am October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Let’s go!!!!