Cunningham headed to Dallas
Former OSU guard Jared Cunningham first Beaver selected in first round since 1998
Published: Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 20:07
On April 9, Jared Cunningham announced his decision to leave Oregon State University and enter the NBA Draft, which was a decision met with mixed reviews.
Few in Beaver Nation expected Cunningham to go pro, and many thought he wasn’t ready.
At his press conference in April, Cunningham said, “I can go from 20 to 40 or whatever. It only takes one team to fall in love with me.”
Many could not even fathom the thought of Cunningham going in the first round. But Cunningham’s draft stock rose as quickly as Jared Sullinger’s fell, and Thursday, the Dallas Mavericks picked him 24th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Less than four months ago, Cunningham was just another college kid living in Corvallis doing his thing. Now in a week, he will move to Dallas, and will be signing a minimum two-year contract worth no less than $1 million each year. He even got his Twitter account verified a few days before the draft.
“That was a crazy moment, just to see the little blue check mark,” Cunningham said. “You know that you’re official.”
Still, Cunningham says the sudden rise to what many would consider celebrity status hasn’t changed him.
“[My life] hasn’t really changed,” Cunningham said. “I’m still doing the same thing, still the same person. [I’m] just going to be wearing a different jersey next year, so I’m excited for that and I can’t wait.”
Although Cunningham did bring the ball down the court a decent amount for the Beavers last season, he played the two-guard spot almost exclusively and will have to make the transition to point guard at the next level.
Cunningham explained there isn’t one area in particular that he feels he needs to work on.
“You have to work on everything,” Cunningham said. “There is a lot of stuff I can learn. Different game, different transitioning, different speed, different play calling. Just being in the best of shape and just being able to learn from the people that are going to teach me.”
One of two scenarios could play out in Dallas. The first being that Jason Kidd comes back to the Mavericks and Deron Williams comes with him. That would put Cunningham in tight competition with guards Dominque Jones and Rodrigue Beaubois for a roster spot.
The more likely scenario is that Kidd and Williams will both go to Brooklyn, leaving the competition for the point guard position in Dallas wide open.
Neither Jones nor Beaubois have yet to break through and realize the potential that many think they have, which leaves the door wide open for Cunningham to play his way into the rotation.
As for now, Cunningham is unaware of what’s going to happen in Dallas. He is currently focused on his move to Dallas, and will be playing in the Summer League in Las Vegas, which begins on July 13.
“I’m working out and staying in the gym,” Cunningham said. “Just can’t leave the gym; it’s my job and my career ahead of me.”
What’s Cunningham most excited about as he enters the world of professional basketball?
“Getting on the court and scoring my first point, getting my first assist, all that,” he said. “Just being on the court.”
Cunningham is the first Beaver drafted in the first round since Corey Benjamin was taken in 1998. He gave a lot of credit to Craig Robinson for getting him to where he is now.
“It definitely made me a stronger person mentally,” Cunningham said. “Just being away from home and being with coach Robinson and being around the type of guy he is, a strict guy, always to the rules, never be late, and just be on time and focus and work your hardest every day. He definitely instilled that in me and that’s going carry me a long way.”
Whether Cunningham ends up with a couple of rings or fizzles out without much ceremony, he will most definitely always be remembered by the Oregon State faithful.
“I just want to thank Beaver Nation for being there and supporting me, hopefully they can be Dallas Maverick fans too.”
On twitter: @dr_crawf