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Cade Cunningham Earns Top Spot in Composite Recruiting Rankings

Cade Cunningham averages out as No. 1.



It’s been a weird week or so in regards to Cade Cunningham and recruiting rankings, but he finishes it as the top high school senior in the country.

247 Sports updated its composite rankings for the 2020 class Thursday, and Cunningham, an Oklahoma State signee, sits at the top of it. A few days ago Cunningham jumped to the top of Rivals‘ rankings, but his composite jump is probably a higher honor, considering it averages out rankings from major networks from all over the interweb.

The 247Sports Composite Rating is a proprietary algorithm that compiles prospect “rankings” and “ratings” listed in the public domain by the major media recruiting services. It converts average industry ranks and ratings into a linear composite index capping at 1.0000, which indicates a consensus No. 1 prospect across all services. [247 Sports]

When ESPN updated its 2020 rankings Jan. 22, Cunningham actually fell from No. 2 to No. 3, as uncommitted Jalen Green leapfrogged Cunningham and USC commit Evan Mobley, who has been ahead of Cunningham on nearly every major service before recently.

But then, Rivals updated its rankings and had Cunningham as its new No. 1. He has been USA Today‘s No. 1 player for a bit now, and while he still sits at No. 2 on 247’s Top247, he claims the top spot in the composite system.

Is all of this probably a little silly? Sure. Cunningham, Mobley and Green, no matter how you rank them, will all likely be first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft after standing out in their respective one-year college careers. But, for the time being, No. 1 sounds a lot better than No. 2, and OSU has No. 1.

“There’s a certain level of pride that’s associated with being the best,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “I’m not calling myself a prophet by any means, but I saw this four years ago with this kid. I’m really glad that he’s gonna be a part of our program. I’m happy that this is ultimately playing itself out from a national standpoint.”

247‘s composite rankings go back to 2003. Here is a year-by-year look at No. 1 prospects and where they were eventually taken in the NBA Draft:

Year Player School NBA Draft (Round:Pick)
2020 Cade Cunningham Oklahoma State N/A
2019 James Wiseman Memphis N/A
2018 RJ Barrett Duke 1:3
2017 Marvin Bagley Duke 1:2
2016 Josh Jackson Kansas 1:4
2015 Ben Simmons LSU 1:1
2014 Jahlil Okafor Duke 1:3
2013 Andrew Wiggins Kansas 1:1
2012 Nerlens Noel Kentucky 1:6
2011 Anthony Davis Kentucky 1:1
2010 Harrison Barnes North Carolina 1:7
2009 Derrick Favors Georgia Tech 1:3
2008 Brandon Jennings Pro 1:10
2007 Eric Gordon Indiana 1:7
2006 Greg Oden Ohio State 1:1
2005 Gerald Green NBA 1:18
2004 Dwight Howard NBA 1:1
2003 Lebron James NBA 1:1

So, does this mean that Cunningham is a lock for the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft? No, of course not. But things are looking quite good that OSU will have its first first-round pick since Marcus Smart in 2014.

And not all of those guys proved to be the best in their class given hindsight, as everyone can again point to Greg Oden vs. Kevin Durant, but again, OSU hasn’t had a first-round pick since Smart.

Among the 16 eligible players from that list (only excluding Cunningham and Wiseman), the average player was taken fourth overall in the NBA Draft. If Cunningham were to hit that average, he would be the second highest Cowboy ever taken in the NBA Draft, trailing only Bob Harris, who the Fort Wayne Pistons took third in 1949.

Gerald Green is an outlier on the list above as the only player taken outside of the Top 10, but Green’s case is a bit different, as he wasn’t initially as highly touted as he finished. He initially committed to Oklahoma State before his stock skyrocketed, and he decided to skip college all together. It turned out to be a fine enough decision, as he is still in the NBA.

Rankings aren’t the end-all, be-all, but it’s a fun thing to examine. Numbers in general are kind of what sports are all about, and in this particular metric, OSU has No. 1.

“At the end of the day, that’s just the beginning for him,” Boynton said. “He’s got big, big goals. He believes we can help him get to where he ultimately wants to go.”


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