To be a better athlete, Cade Cunningham felt he needed to give up playing American football and move on to the game of basketball.
The 19-year-old Cunningham, who is now considered as a top pick in the coming NBA Rookie Draft 2021, was in ninth grade when he made a decision to pick up a basketball and start playing the game.
“I started thinking that I can be one of the top players in basketball when I left football, once I locked in and picked a basketball. So, from that point on I wanted to be the best,” said the 6’8” Cunningham in a Zoom session with Filipino scribes, made possible by NBA Philippines.
Cunningham played for one season with Oklahoma State University in the first division of the US National Collegiate Athletic Association before he decided to join this year’s draft.
He decided not to pursue playing for Oklahoma State after the school was sanctioned by the NCAA back in June following a federal corruption investigation into college basketball.
The 220-lbs. Cunningham said he took the pains in studying and preparing for his move and his game.
“It’s about studying more, and on the mindset of the tough guys, on how they approach their situation, and it helped me get to this point,” said Cunningham.
The Pistons, who finished last in the Eastern Conference and are currently in rebuilding mode, are expected to pick Cunningham, although General Manager Troy Weaver has kept their team’s choices close to his chest.
For now, Cunningham could make it to the Pistons’ roster. If not, they may go for shooting guard Jalen Green and mobile center Evan Mobley.
Cunningham expressed his excitement if he gets picked by the Pistons after spending time in practice with them.
“If they take me, I’ll definitely be excited. They have a lot of good things going for them,” added Cunningham.
Cunningham caught the attention of scouts with his smooth ballhandling and passing skills.
Scouting reports point to his ability to evade traps, find open shooters or create his own shot.