The effect on Cade Cunningham and more fallout from OSU's penalties
The NCAA handed down harsh penalties to Oklahoma State on Friday as a result of the FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting, and the school strongly disagrees with the punishment. Probation, fines, recruiting restrictions and, most importantly, a postseason ban for the upcoming season were among the sanctions. The university plans to appeal.
What is to come for the future of the program, including its ballyhooed recruiting class led by top-rated senior Cade Cunningham? We look at this issue and more in the wake of the harsh penalties handed down.
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What happens to Cade Cunningham?
Will the No. 1 player in the 2020 class still enroll at Oklahoma State even though the Cowboys cannot go to the NCAA tournament? Cunningham is obviously a program-changing talent. Coach Mike Boyton has already told CBS that OSU would not stand in the way if Cunningham asks for a release. What that would mean for his brother, current OSU assistant coach, Cannen Cunningham, is anyone’s guess.
At the time of Cunningham’s commitment, his recruitment was a battle between Kentucky and the Pokes. He chose loyalty toward his family and relationship with Boynton over UK. Kentucky has an available scholarship for the 2020 class.
Cunningham remains blindsided by the penalties, just as most do affiliated with the program, so a decision on his part is not expected soon. The G League made a run at him earlier in the year, but playing overseas would likely trump playing professionally domestically this fall if he passes on college basketball.
What about the rest of OSU's 2020 class?
For as good as Cunningham is, there was more to OSU’s 2020 class than just the five-star guard. Cal Baptist graduate-transfer Ferron Flavors was set to enroll, as was four other freshmen including Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe, Donovan Williams, Rondel Walker and Montreal Pena. The former two were prior travel teammates of Cunningham’s while Alexander-Moncrieffe had been training with Cunningham in recent weeks in the Dallas-Fort Worth region in the lead-up to summer workouts.
One can only assume that the vultures are out attempting to pilfer any of the incoming freshmen that may be second-guessing their original college decisions. Each would immediately become top available prospects that would likely receive full eligibility in the fall if they decided to opt out of their letters of intent.
Returning players may look elsewhere
Beyond just its 2020 class, what could happen with Oklahoma State’s current roster? The Pokes were set to return a load of talent across the floor. Will Isaac Likekele, the Boone brothers, Yor Anei or Chris Harris, decide to split Stillwater in hopes of playing beyond the final Big 12 Conference game and for a program that won’t have a dark shadow hanging over it?
Similar to the situation at Ole Miss for football in 2018 that saw a number of its top talent transfer and receive immediate eligibility due to NCAA infractions, it is well within reason that if the transfer route is one that some decide to take, that landing spots will not be difficult to find.
Other programs on the lookout
Oklahoma State is the first school to receive penalties reeling from the bribery and corruption case first revealed in September of 2017. What could this mean for Arizona, Auburn and USC? Like Oklahoma State, each saw one of its assistant coaches arrested. Comparable restrictions could be soon levied against them. How each will go about putting out potential fires in the lead-up to the assessment of its own penalties is still to be determined.
Furthermore, what comes of the Notice of Allegations that has been received at places such as Kansas, Louisville, NC State, and South Carolina? Could this be a new day for the NCAA in harshly penalizing all those that have transpired against its rulebook?