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Cade Cunningham and the Miniscule Chance of Him Not Being a One-and-Done

“I’m comfortable that if I stay here four years I’d be just as happy as I am going into this year.”



For about 40 minutes on Wednesday, Cade Cunningham cooly answered every question that was asked of him in his debut to Oklahoma media Wednesday.

In a Zoom call filled with reporters who have waited months to speak with him, Cunningham handled himself like a longtime veteran, not an incoming college freshman. One question Cunningham was hit with was the presumption of him being a one-and-done. Is it a lock? Could he come back for a sophomore campaign? Cunningham answered it about as good as one possibly good.

“[Being a one-and-done] has always been a goal of mine,” Cunningham said. “The NBA is the end goal for me. Hopefully it’s in one year, but if it’s not, I’m comfortable with the people that I’m around. I’m comfortable that if I stay here four years I’d be just as happy as I am going into this year.

“I’m not really worried about it. I feel like whenever it’s time for me to get into the NBA, I want to be able to last, so if it means I have to play here three years, then that’s what it takes. I’m more about staying in the NBA, so however long it takes. Yeah, if it’s one year then it’s one year, and I’m going to try to make the most out of the one year I’m here.”

So, what are the chances that Cunningham, the No. 1 player in his high school class, does stick it out at OSU for an extra year or two or three?

There have been 13 No. 1 recruits go to college since the 247Sports composite system debuted in 2003. Of those, 12 have been one-and-dones, with Harrison Barnes being the only exception. Barnes played two seasons at North Carolina. So base off that data (though it isn’t truly that simple), Cunningham has a 7.7 percent chance to stay at Oklahoma State past this upcoming season.

Class Player School One-and-Done?
2019 James Wiseman Memphis Yes
2018 R.J. Barrett Duke Yes
2017 Marvin Bagley Duke Yes
2016 Josh Jackson Kansas Yes
2015 Ben Simmons LSU Yes
2014 Jahlil Okafor Duke Yes
2013 Andrew Wiggins Kansas Yes
2012 Nerlens Noel Kentucky Yes
2011 Anthony Davis Kentucky Yes
2010 Harrison Barnes North Carolina No
2009 Derrick Favors Georgia Tech Yes
2007 Eric Gordon Indiana Yes
2006 Greg Oden Ohio State Yes

There’s also the argument of “What if there isn’t a 2020-21 basketball season? Then would Cade stay?” The answer is still probably not, but here is what Cunningham said on the thought of the COVID-19 pandemic potentially cancelling his freshman season.

“I’ll talk with my family about that,” Cunningham said. “It’s a tough call right now just because who knows what will happen, but I’ll talk with my family and see what the NBA is thinking, what the GMs are thinking and everything and just try to get as much feedback on what the best route for me would be, and I’ll figure it out from there. I feel like that’s a super longshot. There’s no telling from right now, so I’m just trying to stay in the moment and keep working. But when we get there, I feel like I’ll make the best decision for me.”

The most relatable data point for this came just this past season. Because of an NCAA suspension, James Wiseman played in only three games for Memphis, but he is still heavily in the discussion to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Even if there isn’t a college basketball season in 2020-21, there will likely still be a draft, and Cade Cunningham’s stock as best player in his age group, isn’t going to change much because of it.

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