DETROIT – The Detroit Pistons announced tonight that the club has selected Cade Cunningham with the first overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, along with Isaiah Livers and Luka Garza in the second round.
“This was a very exciting night for our franchise, our fans and the city,” said Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores. “We made great progress adding four talented young men. They are all high-character individuals that fit the culture and championship mentality we are creating.”
Cunningham, 6-8, 220, averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks in 35.4 minutes over 27 games for Oklahoma State in 2020-21. Cunningham became the first player in Oklahoma State history to be selected to the AP All-America First Team while also becoming just the fourth player in Big 12 history to be named both the Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year. He was a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team, All-Freshman Team and All-Newcomer Team selection and was named a finalist for the 2020-21 Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award and Bob Cousy Point Guard Award.
“I had the opportunity to spend time with Cade before the draft,” said Mr. Gores. “I could tell immediately that he’s not just an elite prospect, he’s an elite leader who will take our franchise to another level.”
The Arlington, Texas native led the Big 12 in scoring and set an Oklahoma State freshman record with 544 points while shooting .438 from the field, .400 from distance and .846 from the free-throw line. Cunningham also led the conference in minutes and finished third in free-throw percentage, sixth in steals and 3-pointers made per game (2.3), ninth in rebounding and 13th in assists. He is now the highest-ever drafted player in Oklahoma State history and is Detroit’s highest draft pick since 1970, marking the third No. 1 selection in team history.
Livers, 6-7, 230, played collegiately at Michigan from 2017-21. He posted averages of 13.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31.6 minutes during his senior campaign and was named an All-Big Ten Second Team selection. He was a top-five finalist for the 2020-21 Julius Erving Award, honoring the nation’s top small forward, while finishing fifth in the Big Ten in 3-pointers made per game (2.2) and leading Michigan with 50 3-pointers made.
The Kalamazoo native tallied career marks of 8.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists in 23.4 minutes over his four seasons as a Wolverine while shooting .465 from the field, .412 from 3-point range and .856 from the free-throw line. Michigan went 105-32 during his four-year career and he was a semifinalist for the 2020-21 Senior CLASS Award, the premier award for NCAA senior student athletes that honors excellence on and off the court.
Garza, 6-11, 235, earned unanimous 2020-21 National Player of the Year honors after totaling 24.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.6 blocks in 31.6 minutes over 31 games as a senior at Iowa. He led the nation in points (747) and field goals made (281) while shooting .553 from the field and .440 from 3-point range in 2020-21. Garza was a two-time unanimous All-America First Team selection and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year while becoming Iowa’s all-time leading scorer (2,306), marking the seventh-highest scoring total in Big Ten history.
Garza became the first Big Ten player to average at least 23 points and eight rebounds in consecutive seasons since 1994. He finished his career as a Hawkeye with averages of 18.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 blocks in 127 games.
“I want to congratulate Troy and our team in the front office,” continued Mr. Gores. “They did an outstanding job preparing for the draft. They have done an incredible job over the past year establishing and restoring our culture. I’m also excited for Dwane [Casey] and his coaching staff to build on the momentum of growth and development that has been established.”