If Cade Cunningham hadn’t already gotten your consideration, the Oklahoma State freshman standout absolutely acquired it on Saturday. Cunningham, the present favourite to go No. 1 within the 2021 NBA draft, dropped 40 factors and 11 rebounds on Oklahoma in a essential additional time win for the Cowboys, and he adopted that efficiency by main OSU to a sweep of its in-state rival two days later. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Cunningham can seemingly play anyplace on the ground, however it’s his potential as a lead guard and facilitator that has NBA scouts salivating. Earlier than he will get to the league, we requested ESPN.com’s panel of consultants to speak about which stars of the previous the Picket Award finalist most evokes of their minds.
Which school basketball participant of the previous does Cade Cunningham most remind you of, and why?
Jeff Borzello, school basketball insider: Nicely, in final week’s roundtable, Cunningham was my choose to be this season’s Kemba Walker — and that was earlier than his 40-point effort. I believe he may nonetheless be that by way of how he can carry the Cowboys, and the way he finds methods to make performs late in video games.
Let me throw a wild card at you, although: an even bigger Deron Williams. Earlier than you shut this window instantly, it is not unbelievable. Each use their energy to energy by way of defenders and end within the lane, and each guys at all times play underneath management — in transition and in a pick-and-roll or half-court setting — and barely get sped up. Williams was extra of a quantity 3-point shooter than Cunningham, however like Cunningham, he most well-liked to play off the bounce and get into the lane earlier than ending on his personal or discovering teammates. Each even have terrific passing capacity and persistently make teammates higher. Each guys are the first playmaker in an excellent perimeter group crammed with pesky defenders and succesful shooters. There may not be a Dee Brown in Stillwater this season, however I am nonetheless going with large Deron Williams as my comp for Cade.
Joe Lunardi, ESPN bracketologist: I am sufficiently old to recollect when Magic Johnson was thought-about too tall to be an NBA level guard and too sluggish to thrive in a transition offense. The results of that hypothesis? “Showtime” and 5 NBA championships. Perceive, nobody is saying Cade Cunningham is the following Magic Johnson, however his profound influence on a recreation is plain. If Oklahoma State wanted him to play heart like Magic as soon as did? Test. Does he defer nearly to a fault? Test. Is he nonetheless the most important risk at what Magic referred to as “profitable time”? Double verify. Cade may not be Magic, however he is no less than Ben Simmons with a bounce shot.
John Gasaway, school basketball author: I for one refuse to be intimidated or outdone by all of those deep historic references and all of this archival muscle flexing from Lunardi and Borzello. I am going to go even additional again in time! Let’s have a look at, Jo Jo White. Dick McGuire. Wait, I’ve obtained it, Phog Allen, and I imply Allen when he performed for Coach Naismith.
Oklahoma State freshman guard Cade Cunningham breaks down his mindset throughout his most clutch photographs.
Or maybe the newer previous actually is the way in which to go. I am going to take Greivis Vasquez. In 2010, when Vasquez was a senior at Maryland, it was nonetheless considerably uncommon to see a 6-foot-6 man with the ball in his palms. The Terrapins ran their offense by way of Vasquez, and, like Cunningham, he was a playmaker who regarded to get to the rim and/or distribute first and contemplate a 3 solely after that or when wide-open. Like Cunningham, Vasquez had the calm mastery with the ball that each coach desires to see of their main creator. The one place the place this comp fails is that Cunningham helps out to a a lot higher extent on the defensive glass.
If I have been actually making an attempt to verify each field throughout the board, I might must ignore the “participant of the previous” a part of the query and have a look at Ayo Dosunmu. Cunningham is youthful and taller than the entire above, after all, and thus the NBA is sort of rightly eager to draft him as quickly as attainable.
Myron Medcalf, senior school basketball author: I at all times love these questions. I used to be a Huge Ten child. And I bear in mind how unstoppable Jim Jackson was at Ohio State in the course of the 1991-92 season. Like Cunningham, he was a risk in all places. He made 40% of his 3-pointers whereas averaging 22.4 PPG. He was an enormous, 6-6 guard who was fast sufficient to separate a pair of defenders, fly above the rim or make an influence from the perimeter. He averaged 4.0 APG, too. He additionally shared Cunningham’s reliability on the free throw line (81% success fee).
Jackson’s squad received 26 video games earlier than dropping to Michigan in a memorable Elite Eight recreation. He was a bodily imposing, versatile scoring risk. He was additionally a defensive standout (1.7 steals per recreation, second within the Huge Ten within the 1991-92 season). You undergo that checklist of All-Individuals over the previous 40 or 50 years and you will not discover anybody fairly like Cunningham. However I believe Jackson may have been a giant level guard in right now’s school recreation. Thanks for giving me a motive to observe early-Nineties Huge Ten basketball highlights — always remember Rashard Griffith! — for the previous half hour.