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Watch Now: Cade Cunningham declares for the 2021 NBA Draft
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Watch Now: Cade Cunningham declares for the 2021 NBA Draft

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OSU head coach Mike Boynton joined Cunningham for his announcement on April 1, 2021

Cade Cunningham enjoyed his time at Oklahoma State while helping bring the Cowboys back into the national spotlight, but it’s time for the potential No. 1 overall pick to move on to the 2021 NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pound freshman officially declared for the draft during Thursday’s news conference in Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater but made sure to express his appreciation for OSU.

“This year was a great year for me,” Cunningham said. “I feel like I’ve grown tremendously throughout the year from a person and a basketball standpoint. I think more than anything, the gratitude I have for the people behind the scenes that I don’t think get as much credit as they should. Obviously coach Mike (Boynton), me and him we’ve had this crazy connection from the beginning, but he’s really put the right people throughout the program to help sustain the energy that he’s brought.

“Just a ton of appreciation from me, and I’m always going to be a Cowboy for life. I look forward to coming back and being able to support my squad whenever they play.”

Head coach Mike Boynton sat by Cunningham’s side Thursday while his teammates sat behind them. Cunningham helped lead the Cowboys to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2017 and their first win in the round of 64 since 2009 by averaging 20.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The Big 12 Player of the Year also shot 40% from 3-point range.

Cunningham became an All-American point guard, Tisdale Award recipient and is currently a Naismith Trophy finalist. He’s been showered with personal accolades since he arrived in Stillwater, but one of Cunningham’s biggest attributes is his willingness to be a team player. Boynton expects that mentality to continue at the next level.

“I think it’s more character than anything,” Boynton said. “He’s got a great level of humility, which not a lot of young people understand. ... There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be a great pro because he’s already been a great pro even as a freshman in college. We’re excited about this next step for him and his family, and we’ll be cheering for him forever.”

Cunningham’s one year in Stillwater has helped him prepare for the NBA in multiple ways, and if he had to do it all over again, Cunningham said he would definitely choose OSU.

“I kind of knew coming in I was going to have to work for everything, and I wasn’t surprised by anything,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing that helped me coming in.”

Photos: Cade Cunningham’s season at Oklahoma State

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Sports Writer

I joined the Tulsa World as the Oklahoma State University sports writer in June 2019. I'm an Indiana native who attended graduate school at IUPUI after receiving my bachelor’s degree at Indiana University. Phone: 918-581-8387

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