Cade Cunningham hasn’t played a game at Oklahoma State yet, but he is already living up to the mantra held by Cowboy fans of Loyal and True.
Despite the threat of not getting to play in the postseason – due to a ban for the program by the NCAA – in what will likely be his one and only season in college basketball, Cunningham tweeted out Monday morning a video with the text, “Unswerving in allegiance.” – proclaiming he would stick with his commitment to Oklahoma State and coach Mike Boynton.
“I think it says a lot about what our program is, that these guys believe that at Oklahoma State, you can have success really under any circumstances, and that you can accomplish things if you commit to the greater good of the group,” Boynton said in a media availability Monday afternoon. “I’ll say this on a personal note, that I never really worried, because at the end of the day, my charge is to support these kids, and that’s all my focus was for the last two and a half weeks – while at the same time, trying to help them understand the things that they still could accomplish here and within our program.”
The video started with the exact word that rings throughout the hearts and minds of Oklahoma State faithful – “Loyalty” is what Cunningham speaks as the first word in the video.
“It’s more than a word,” Cunningham proceeds to say. “It’s action. It’s standing by the people you started with. It’s showing up, even when times are hard.
“It’s believing in the people who always believe in you. It’s commitment.”
As the video progresses, it shows Cunningham shaking hands with Boynton and Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe, who was reported over the weekend by several news organizations as another player committed to the Cowboys. It also shows him wearing an Oklahoma State Basketball T-shirt.
“Now, more than ever, I’m loyal and true,” Cunningham says in the video. “I’m committed. Stillwater, let’s work.”
There were reports Cunningham was being wooed by the G-League, allowing him to skip college and play in the developmental league for the NBA. Reports Monday had offers north of $500,000 to have Cunningham – who is projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft – to start his professional career a year early.
However, following Cunningham’s commitment to stick with the program, Oklahoma State released a short video of Cunningham talking about one of the major reasons he is sticking with the Cowboys.
In short, the competition he will face.
“Oklahoma State doesn’t get the credit that they deserve, or the platform, just because of whatever,” Cunningham said in the video. “But being in the Big 12 just in general, having Coach Boynton as my coach, he’s going to put me in the best situation as possible to help me reach my goals.
“The Big 12 is a great conference, I feel like with the teams that are in that conference, every game I’m going to have to compete for a win. … Every game is on ESPN, there’s not a lot of conferences that are like that, but the Big 12 is one of them.”
In the latest mock drafts for this year’s NBA Draft, there are five Big 12 players expected to be taken in the 60-player draft. For the 2021 draft, there are six players – aside from Cunningham – who are expected to be drafted out of the Big 12 Conference.
Cunningham is a bit of the cherry on top of the past week for the Cowboys.
All but one of his signing class has confirmed or has been reported as sticking with his commitment. The only one who has not, so far, is Montreal Pena – who does not have a social media presence, and who Boynton feels will stick with the program, too.
Most of the returning players also reaffirmed their devotion to Boynton and the program, aside from two post players. Yor Anei confirmed last week he is transferring, while there was also a report that Hidde Roessink would also transfer.
“In reality, this is about all these guys who have made the decision to stick with our program through what's a little bit of an unfortunate situation that we all look forward to fighting through together,” Boynton said. “And I just can't wait to get these guys all together, physically, and start working towards achieving some of our goals, both as a program, but also for them all individually.”