OSU basketball: Cade Cunningham faces unique challenge this week — his close friends
STILLWATER — Mike Miles isn’t sure how he will react when he steps onto the court and sees Cade Cunningham on the opposite end.
The two might hug. They’ll definitely have a brief conversation. Then, it’s all basketball.
Cunningham and Oklahoma State against Miles and TCU.
Best friends turned rivals.
“Most people I play against don’t know my game as well as he does,” Miles said. “It’s different. He knows me very well. He always tells me that.”
As OSU opens Big 12 play Wednesday night at 6 p.m. against TCU inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, Cunningham — the Cowboys’ superstar — is presented with a unique challenge in his first two conference games.
Facing close friends.
Miles is up first. Texas’ Greg Brown, a five-star forward, follows on Sunday. The trio, along with OSU’s Rondel Walker for one season, were AAU teammates.
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“It’s definitely going to be a fun time playing against them,” Cunningham said, “but friends off the court for sure.”
Cunningham and Miles first met in the fourth grade.
Miles, a Lancaster, Texas, native, was already a member of the AAU team Texas Titans. Cunningham, an Arlington native, was trying out for the team. They quickly became friends and now refer to each other as brothers.
“It’s like being around myself when I’m around him,” Miles said. “We’re basically the same person, so that’s what kinda drew me to him and what drew him to me.”
The two were nearly inseparable.
They grew with the Titans. Miles was first the star. Then Cunningham.
The only summer they didn’t play together was their sophomore year. That’s the only time the two have faced each other on the court.
Cunningham later departed Arlington Bowie for Montverde Academy in Florida, returning the next two summers to play alongside Miles.
And they always remained close.
Cunningham, Walker and Miles each went on an official visit to OSU together more than a year ago. Miles said Cunningham and Walker knew they were going to OSU, but he tagged along as a friend.
Cunningham and Miles have since become the young stars of the Big 12.
Miles won the conference’s first Newcomer of the Week honor to open the season. Cunningham made sure to send a congratulatory text message.
Cunningham then won the award the next two weeks.
“It’s stuff like that that means a lot to both of us,” Miles said. “It’s been real fun watching him play this good.”
But who holds the advantage Wednesday night?
Cunningham is averaging 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and made 47.5% of his shots. Miles has been pretty impressive himself, averaging 13.1 points.
It’s likely they’ll guard each other at some point, too.
“He’s been playing great,” Miles said. “He knows me just as well as I know him. I don’t think either one of us has an advantage.”
No matter the result, the friends have all talked about this stretch of games. At the time, they had no idea OSU would play TCU and Texas in the same week. And they’ll do it again in early February.
That makes their first and possibly only year together in the Big 12 extra special.
“It’s crazy seeing all of us starting in AAU and now in the best conference in NCAA basketball,” Miles said. “It’s really fun to see.
“I’m of course going to watch them play Greg. I’ll be tuned into the game to see what happens. But I’m just happy for all of them, proud of all of them for how they’re playing.”