UK Recruiting

Top Kentucky basketball target Cade Cunningham has a new plan. It’s good news for UK.

The top remaining target on UK’s basketball recruiting board has made another change in plans, and his new schedule could mean good things ahead for the Wildcats.

Cade Cunningham — a 6-foot-7 point guard from Texas — will attend Big Blue Madness next weekend instead of participating in the USA Basketball training camp in Colorado Springs.

Rivals.com was first to report the change in plans.

Cunningham had originally planned to be at Big Blue Madness, but he postponed his official visit to UK after USA Basketball scheduled their camp for the same weekend. His trip to Lexington is now back on.

It’s a big move by the high school senior, who will skip a major USA Basketball event to instead attend UK’s signature recruiting event. Cunningham was a member on this year’s USA U19 team that won a FIBA gold medal, and he’s attended other USA Basketball events in the past.

Rivals.com and 247Sports both rank Cunningham as the No. 2 overall player in the 2020 class. USA Today has him as the No. 1 overall player in that class.

Kentucky has made him a clear priority in recent months.

Cunningham, who is entering his final season at Montverde (Fla.) Academy, was the first player that John Calipari visited to start the fall recruiting period in September, and the UK coach also visited with Cunningham’s family in Texas last month.

UK assistant coach Tony Barbee was at Montverde for another recruiting visit Thursday, and Cunningham decided shortly after that meeting that he would come to Big Blue Madness, which will be held Oct. 11 in Rupp Arena.

Many recruiting analysts expected Cunningham to commit to Oklahoma State shortly after the Cowboys hired his brother, Cannen Cunningham, as an assistant coach over the summer. Oklahoma State is still the heavy favorite on Cunningham’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page, but he’s also considering UK, North Carolina, Florida and Washington.

247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels recently changed his prediction from Oklahoma State to “undecided” and has written in recent days that he thinks UK still has a legitimate shot to land Cunningham, who will make a college decision in time for next month’s early signing period.

The Herald-Leader has been told that Kentucky — not North Carolina — should now be seen as Oklahoma State’s main competition for the star recruit, and the Wildcats do indeed have a legitimate shot to land his commitment.

Cunningham spoke to Rivals.com’s Corey Evans last week, delivering a positive review of John Calipari’s recruiting pitch so far. He also said he’s close friends with all four of UK’s early commitments for 2020 and has also spoken to fellow Texans Tyrese Maxey and De’Aaron Fox about the program.

“Coach Cal, his main thing is, I have just been very transparent with all of the coaches recruiting me and I don’t want to just make it to the league but rather, I want to be an all-star and a max contract guy,” Cunningham told Rivals.com.

“I feel if you just shoot to make it in the league, that is how you sell yourself short, so just telling him that I want to be a max contract guy, that is a good goal to set. He has had so many of those guys and guys like me and all others at other positions that have been No. 1 picks, so that has been his main pitch to me. … He has had a really good pitch so far.”

Friday

Big Blue Madness

7 p.m. in Rupp Arena (SEC Network)

Ben Roberts covers UK basketball, football and other sports for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in UK basketball recruiting for the past several years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts.
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