Cade Cunningham

And-Ones: 2021 Draft, NBAGL, New Coaches, Training Camp Rosters

With the 2020 NBA draft in the rear view, several draft experts have begun previewing what promises to be a loaded 2021 draft class.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN supplies his top 60 best prospects, noting that the race for pole position among them remains fairly open. In his own top 60 list, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic observes that the draft is heavy in wings, always a position of need in the league. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report comments in his top 30 ranking that NBA scouts believe several prospects in 2021 sport All-Star potential.

Oklahoma State point guard Cade Cunningham, G League Ignite shooting guard Jalen Green and Kentucky shooting guard Brandon Boston Jr. comprise the top three selections of all three draft prognosticators, though the ordering of the rest of their lists is fairly different.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Though the fate of the NBA G League’s 2020/21 season has not yet officially been confirmed, a spokesperson for the league informs Jordan Schultz of ESPN (via Twitter) that they are “committed to playing a 2020/21 season.”
  • Several of the NBA’s new coaching hires have immediately faced unexpected challenges even before the 2020/21 NBA season kicks off, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. While Stephen Silas grapples with his two Rockets superstars striving for trades out of town, Stan Van Gundy has seen two Pelicans starters get replaced. Meanwhile, new Clippers coach Tyronn Lue and new Sixers coach Doc Rivers will need to integrate significant personnel changes on their rosters.
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets that he has been told that some NBA clubs do not intend to field full training camp rosters this season due to potential coronavirus risks.

Top 2021 Prospect Cade Cunningham Sticks With Oklahoma State

Cade Cunningham, projected to be the potential No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA draft, has decided to maintain his commitment to Oklahoma State for the 2020/21 season, he announced today on Twitter (video link).

After Cunningham made his original commitment to Oklahoma State, the school was sanctioned by the NCAA for recruiting violations. A 2021 postseason ban was among the penalties levied upon the Cowboys, leading to speculation that Cunningham may opt for a different program or even take the G League professional path. However, he has decided to play for Oklahoma State after all, despite not getting the chance to participate in next year’s NCAA tournament, barring an appeal that reverses the one-year ban.

According to Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link), Cunningham never seriously considered joining the G League option, having turned down a $500K+ offer to play for the new Select Team along with Jalen Green, Daishen Nix, and others.

Although Green edged out Cunningham on ESPN’s list of 2020’s top 100 high school recruits, draft guru Jonathan Givony has Cunningham ranked as the top player on his board for the 2021 draft. Givony noted in his most recent ’21 mock that both Cunningham and Green would likely go No. 1 in 2020’s draft if they were eligible.

A 6’7″ point guard, Cunningham was named the Naismith Prep Player of the Year in 2020, leading Montverde Academy in Florida to a 25-0 record with averages of 13.9 PPG, 6.4 APG, and 4.2 RPG.

And-Ones: China, Cunningham, WNBA, Miller

After a number of setbacks and false starts, the Chinese Basketball Association now intends to resume it season on June 20, the league announced this week. As ESPN’s Kevin Wang details, the CBA’s 20 teams will be divided into two groups and will play in empty arenas in a pair of cities (Qingdao and Dongguan). According to Wang, the plan is for the teams to finish the regular season by July 4.

The Chinese Basketball Association was the first international basketball league to suspend its season due to the coronavirus pandemic, doing so in January. The league had originally hoped to resume play by the start of April, but had to push that target date back multiple times. While it appears that the CBA is now set to move forward with its new June 20 resumption date, it’s not clear whether teams will get back all of their international players that left China during the hiatus, Wang writes.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Following an investigation into bribes accepted by a former coach, the NCAA has levied a series of penalties against the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team, including banning the program from the postseason for the 2020/21 season. That’s a major development, since potential 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham had committed to the program. As Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Cunningham now reevaluates his options for next season.
  • A series of ESPN panelists predicts which players will win this year’s major awards while also weighing in on which players should win those awards.
  • As Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com writes, the WNBA is proposing a 22-game regular season for 2020. Games would begin on July 24 and would be played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, per Voepel. The plan is still tentative and would require players’ approval.
  • Former NBA forward Mike Miller, who has spent the last two years as an assistant coach for the Memphis Tigers, has parted ways with the program, he announced this week (via Twitter).

Draft Notes: Smart, Mack, Yurtseven, 2021 Draft

As we outlined on Monday morning, this year’s deadline for early entrants to declare for the 2020 NBA draft fell on Sunday night, meaning the league will soon be officially releasing its initial list of early entrants.

As we await that list, we’re still seeing a few more updates trickling in, so we’ll pass along a couple of those in the space below — and take an early look at how this year’s early entry list will impact the 2021 draft class…

  • LSU sophomore guard Javonte Smart has declared for the draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he announced on Instagram. Smart, who presumably submitted his paperwork by Sunday night, averaged 12.5 PPG, 4.2 APG, and 3.5 RPG on .415/.326/.814 shooting in 31 games (34.2 MPG) for the Tigers.
  • Sophomore guard Cam Mack, who previously said he was entering the draft, announced on Twitter that he has changed course and has instead decided to transfer. Mack averaged 12.0 PPG and 6.4 APG in 28 games for Nebraska in 2019/20, but won’t be returning to the Cornhuskers, who suspended him indefinitely near the end of the season.
  • Georgetown big man Omer Yurtseven will enter the draft and won’t return to college, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets. Born in Turkey, Yurtseven averaged 15.5 PPG and 9.8 RPG in 26 games with the Hoyas. The 7-footer also played two seasons with North Carolina State.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) has updated his 2021 mock draft, removing players who have declared for the 2020 draft and listing Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green as the current favorites to go first and second overall. Both Cunningham and Green would likely be No. 1 on big boards in 2020 if they were eligible to be drafted this year, Givony adds.

And-Ones: Maxey, Hampton, Cunningham, Vasquez

With the NCAA season getting underway this week, Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) are providing some early scouting reports on top prospects for the 2020 draft, writing that Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey “stole the show” and looked like a potential top-10 pick in a win over Michigan State on Tuesday.

While Givony and Schmitz are keeping a close eye on several top NCAA prospects, R.J. Hampton – another projected top-10 pick for 2020 – is halfway around the world, playing for the New Zealand Breakers in Australia’s National Basketball League. In a fascinating feature for The Athletic, Dana O’Neil takes a look at how Hampton has adjusted to playing professional ball.

Although Hampton doesn’t necessarily regret choosing to spend the year in Auckland, he admits that it’s “a little weird” watching the NCAA season tip off this week. “I can envision myself in a Kansas jersey,” Hampton told O’Neil, referencing a Jayhawks team whose roster features his best friend Jalen Wilson.

Meanwhile, the top prospect for the 2021 draft class will be remaining stateside rather than following in Hampton’s footsteps by heading overseas. As Givony relays (via Twitter), 6’7″ point guard Cade Cunningham announced this week that he has committed to Oklahoma State for his freshman year in 2020/21. Cunningham claimed the No. 1 spot in ESPN’s very-early mock draft for ’21.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • As part of the NBA’s attempted crackdown on tampering, the league has prohibited team personnel from using apps that auto-delete relevant communication, per Pete Thamel, Seerat Sohi, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. As Dan Feldman of NBC Sports observes, it’s hard to see how the NBA will be able to enforce such a rule.
  • Former NBA point guard Greivis Vasquez is taking a leave of absence from his job as the associate head coach of the Erie BayHawks, the Pelicans‘ G League affiliate, the team announced today in a press release. “After taking some time to consider what is best for the team and my health, I have decided to step away from coaching to focus on rehabbing my ankle,” Vasquez said in a statement.
  • In the wake of the NBA/China controversy that dominated headlines during the preseason, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts tells Ben Tolliver of The Washington Post that the union hasn’t done enough to help educate players on international issues. With the NBA frequently making trips to countries like China, India, and others, Roberts wants to help raise players’ awareness on those issues.
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation argues that head coaching jobs are more stable now than they have been in past years, generally speaking. As Ziller writes, the average tenure for an NBA coach right now is 3.7 years, which is the highest mark in at least a decade.

And-Ones: Dante, Hampton, 2021 Draft, Grant

Oregon big man N’Faly Dante has been informed that he’ll be ineligible to play at the start of the 2019/20 season because the NCAA missed his clearance date, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. In a statement, the five-star recruit that he has completed the academic requirements and intends to re-enroll to Oregon on December 14 in the hopes of being cleared to play.

Charania refers to Dante as a potential lottery pick in 2020, and NBADraft.net has him ranked 13th overall in the site’s latest mock draft. His name doesn’t show up at all in ESPN’s most recent 2020 mock, but it’s possible that will change if he gets his eligibility issues sorted out.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • R.J. Hampton, a projected 2020 lottery pick, said he had “a lot of room for growth” after his New Zealand Breakers played exhibition games against the Grizzlies and Thunder last week. According to ESPN’s Royce Young, there were nearly 60 NBA scouts and executives in attendance at the game in Oklahoma City.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link) have already unveiled their first mock draft for 2021, with point guard Cade Cunningham in the No. 1 spot.
  • With the Qingdao Eagles signing American-born guard Darius Adams, the Chinese club is apparently parting ways with another one of its U.S. players. According to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (via Twitter), former Knicks, Bulls, and Magic point guard Jerian Grant is the odd man out for Qingdao and will be released. Carchia initially reported last month that the Eagles were considering waiving Grant.