Montverde Academy’s 2019-20 basketball team could arguably be the best high school basketball team ever. It comes as no surprise that Cade Cunningham is receiving his share of praise. As the No. 1 high school basketball player in the U.S., Montverde’s star senior may be destined to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Davis, Andrew Wiggins, and Ben Simmons.
All three NBA greats were No. 1-ranked high school players who went on to be first overall picks in their prospective drafts. Will Cunningham be next?
The 6-foot-10, 220-pound power forward played high school basketball for Perspectives charter school in Chicago, Illinois. As a senior in 2011, Davis was the top-ranked high school player in the nation. He went on to play for Kentucky after high school.
On June 28, 2012, the New Orleans Hornets selected Davis as the first overall draft pick. This made him the first player ever to receive a No. 1 high-school player ranking from 247Sports to go on to be a No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
Wiggins played high-school basketball for Huntington St. Joseph Prep in Huntington, WV. As a senior in 2013, the 6-foot-7, 197-pound shooting guard was the No. 1-ranked high school player in the U.S. He went on to play college basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks.
Wiggins’ accolades include selections to the 2013 McDonald’s All-American Game and 2013 Jordan Brand Classic. In 2012, he represented Canada for the 2012 World Select Team and 2013 Nike Hoop Summit. The Cavaliers selected Wiggins first overall in the 2014 NBA draft on June 26, 2014.
During his 2015 senior year at Montverde Academy in Montverde, FL, Simmons was the top high-school basketball prospect in the country. Playing small forward at 6-10 and 225 pounds, the Australian born Simmons played college basketball at Louisiana State University. Following his single season with the Tigers, Simmons entered the 2016 NBA draft and the 76ers picked him first overall.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound point guard is originally from Arlington, TX. He transferred to Montverde Academy before his sophomore year. Ending his high school career, the No. 1 prospect in the nation was selected for the 2020 McDonald’s All-American Game during a season forever altered by COVID-19.
Cunningham is committed to playing a one-and-done season at Oklahoma State where his brother Cannen Cunningham recruited him. 247Sports Director of Basketball Recruiting Evan Daniels projects Cunningham as a first-round pick. He calls the point guard “a big, strong lead guard with fine speed and good athleticism.” CBS Sports projects Cunningham as the No. 1 NBA draft pick in their 2021 mock draft.
A comparison between Cunningham and Simmons is natural; they both attended Montverde Academy, play forward/guard, and were top high-school prospects. But merely comparing statistics loses something in the translation. The depth of talent on the 2019-20 Montverde basketball team made it impossible for Cunningham to produce the types of stats Simmons did in his senior year.
In fact, the only way Cunningham could’ve posted those types of numbers would’ve indicated a severe lack of team play. And it’s that standard of team play that has many in the basketball community saying things like Cunningham’s Trailblazers could be the best team in the history of high school basketball.