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Can Kentucky land top recruit Cade Cunningham?

Ben Roberts, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- It's entirely commonplace for John Calipari to welcome five-star high school prospects onto UK's campus for recruiting visits. It's not hyperbole to say that one of this weekend's guests for Big Blue Madness will be one of Calipari's biggest recruiting visitors in recent memory.

Cade Cunningham -- a 6-foot-7 point guard from Texas and the No. 2 player in the 247Sports rankings for the class of 2020 -- is coming to Lexington for his official visit, deciding to skip a major USA Basketball training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., to follow through with his original plan of attending Big Blue Madness.

Cunningham is the top uncommitted player in the 2020 class, and it's become clear in recent weeks that he's Calipari's top recruiting priority as the early signing period nears.

A few months ago, the idea of Cunningham ending up at Kentucky was implausible.

His older brother was hired as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State in June, and pretty much everyone in recruiting circles expected Cunningham to follow the family tie to Stillwater.

Cunningham, however, continued to list other schools -- Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina and Washington are his other four finalists -- and he's followed through on his pledge to take official visits.

 

247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels downplayed the significance of Cunningham's decision to skip USA Basketball camp to attend Big Blue Madness, but he did recognize that it's a big deal simply to get Cunningham to Lexington.

"The significant portion is that he's going to be on campus," Daniels told the Herald-Leader. "I don't think when he was going to be on campus mattered one way or another. But I do think Kentucky is right there with Cade Cunningham. If I were handicapping it, I would put it -- in no order -- Kentucky, North Carolina and Oklahoma State."

All 15 of the Crystal Ball predictions on Cunningham's 247Sports Crystal Ball page are in favor of Oklahoma State, but Daniels recently switched his pick to "undecided," and there's been a growing sense -- even among those who think he'll ultimately pick the Cowboys -- that Cunningham truly is open to the idea of playing elsewhere.

"They've relayed to the schools involved that he's not a done deal to Oklahoma State," Daniels said. "Will that be the case? ... We'll see what happens.

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