Cade Cunningham Expected to Return from Ankle Injury for Oklahoma State vs. WVU

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIMarch 9, 2021

Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham (2)points during an NCAA college basketball game Monday, March. 1, 2021, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham is expected to return from an ankle injury for the No. 12 Cowboys' Big 12 tournament opener against No. 10 West Virginia at 11:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, head coach Mike Boynton told CBS Sports' Matt Norlander.

Matt Norlander @MattNorlander

Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton tells @CBSSports Cade Cunningham and Isaac Likekele both practiced today and he expects both to play in OSU’s Big 12 quarterfinal vs. West Virginia on Thursday. Cunningham had a recent ankle tweak; Likekele (foot) has missed the past four games.

Cunningham is averaging 19.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this year and was named Big 12 Player of the Year, unanimous Big 12 Freshman of the Year and All-Big 12 First Team. He last played 39 minutes in an 81-70 loss against No. 3 Baylor on Thursday.

The Cowboys ended their regular season with an 85-80 victory over the Mountaineers on March 6 in Morgantown. In the first matchup between the two teams in January, WVU pulled off an 87-84 victory with Cunningham posting 25 points in the loss.

Both The Athletic's Sam Vecenie and Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman project Cunningham as the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft and March sets the stage for him to cement that opinion around the league.

Per Vecenie:

"He runs the show as the Cowboys' lead ballhandler. He knocks down shots off the dribble and off the catch. He doesn't have the best first step, but he has great strength, creativity and coordination that allows him to get to his spots as a ballhandler. He defends. Only two concerns have even remotely popped up about Cunningham so far, and I think they're largely due to the team around him. He hasn't been the best finisher inside, but that's largely because opponents collapse three players onto him constantly on his drives. Second, his passing numbers aren't quite as elite as anticipated, but that's because his teammates are shooting 31 percent from 3 around him and missing assist opportunities. Basically, Cunningham has been exactly as advertised thus far and is worthy of the No. 1 overall pick."

Should the Cowboys defeat the Mountaineers again on Thursday, Oklahoma State will play the winner between top-seeded Baylor and whichever team advances from the first-round matchup between TCU and Kansas State.

All games are being held at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri.