INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – Oklahoma State point
guard Cade Cunningham, a true freshman who electrified
the Big 12 Conference and led the Cowboys' late-season surge to
their first NCAA Tournament win since 2009, is the winner of the
2020-21 Wayman Tisdale Award, honoring the National
Freshman Player of the Year based on voting by the U.S.
Basketball Writers Association.
The lone freshman on USBWA's 2020-21 All-America first team,
Cunningham led the Big 12 in scoring at 20.2 points per game and
was a nine-time recipient of the Big 12 Player and/or Newcomer of
the Week honor, the most by any player this season and the most
in school history. A USBWA All-District VI selection, he is just
the fourth Big 12 player to sweep the conference's player of the
year and freshman of the year awards and was the second-highest-scoring
Cunningham won the Tisdale Award over three other finalists,
all fellow USBWA All-Americans: Michigan center Hunter Dickinson,
USC forward Evan Mobley and Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs. He
is the fifth Big 12 player to win the Wayman Tisdale Award and the
22nd USBWA All-American from OSU, its first since Jawun Evans in
The award is based on regular-season performance. But Cunningham
helped take the fourth-seeded Cowboys into the NCAA's second round,
falling Sunday night to Oregon State 80-70 to finish at 21-9 on
the season. His 24 points against Oregon State playing all 40 minutes
included four three-pointers. He scored 15 points in OSU's first-round
win over Liberty, including nine straight in the final minutes of
its 69-60 win. He finished the season averaging 20.1 points
on 43.8 percent shooting, with 62 three-pointers on 40.0 percent
shooting outside the arc, 6.2 rebounds per game, 132 free throws
made on 84.6 percent accuracy, and a team-high 94 assists and 43
Cunningham is Oklahoma State's first USBWA
All-American since Marcus Smart in the 2012-13. He joins a trio of previous USBWA National Freshman of
the Year Award winners – Smart (2013), Texas'
Kevin Durant (2007) and Kansas State's Michael Beasley (2008) –
in an exclusive group of players to also be chosen as the Big 12
Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in the same season.
He became OSU's all-time leading freshman scorer during the NCAA
Tournament finishing with 544 points, only the program's third
player to score 500 points in a season. Should Cunningham declare his eligibility,
he is expected to be among the top picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The Wayman Tisdale Award is voted on by the entire membership
of the association.
The USBWA has chosen a national freshman of the year award since
the 1988-89 season. It was named the Wayman Tisdale Award in the
2010-11 season in honor of the late three-time USBWA All-American
at Oklahoma and the first freshman to receive first-team All-America
honors from the USBWA.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in
1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers.
With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential
organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America
team since the 1956-57 season. For more information on the USBWA
and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran
Wayman Tisdale Award