Basketball Recruiting - Florida Man: Let Oklahoma State play; Bediako, Baldwin, more
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Florida Man: Let Oklahoma State play; Bediako, Baldwin, more

Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton Jr.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton Jr. (AP Images)

Each week, national basketball analyst and Rivals’ very own Florida Man, Rob Cassidy, takes readers around the hoops recruiting world, touching on news, notes and developments that relate to prospects and teams from coast to coast.

This week, he wonders if the NCAA is cruel enough to deny Oklahoma State’s sanctions appeal now, looks at an upcoming commitment and enters a FutureCast for Patrick Baldwin Jr., Rivals' No. 4 player in the class of 2021.

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MORE: The Cassidy Awards from IMG Academy Beach Bash

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2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Top 30

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TAKE OF THE WEEK: Let the Pokes play 

Cade Cunningham
Cade Cunningham (AP Images)

As things stand, Oklahoma State and box score-stuffing robot Cade Cunningham will be dancing … probably … I hope.

The NCAA has an approval rating similar to the coronavirus for a reason, so I’m not sure optics are something anyone at the organization's home office cares much about. Still, waiting until now to deny the program’s sanctions appeal, which was filed in June, and ban the Pokes from postseason play just a couple weeks before it gets under way would rightfully send OSU fans into a curse-word-soaked frenzy. That said, that outcome is impossible to rule out.

The 15-6 Cowboys have a strong NCAA Tournament resume. They sit in the top half of the Big 12 and project as an No. 8 seed in ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi’s latest projection. Here's the only question left to answer as far as qualification goes: “Would the infractions committee dare hit Oklahoma State and its players with a top-rope elbow drop in a year full of shutdowns, adversity and emotional body slams executed against the backdrop of a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic?”

Yes, I understand rules were possibly broken by Oklahoma State basketball under its previous head coach. Yes, I also get the concept of an investigation and an appeal. But pulling the rug out now seems cruel and unusual. Asking the NCAA to consider how a ruling might affect innocent parties has been a futile request in the past, but biding time while a team full of players and coaches that had little to do with the situation under question to build a resume and grasp at hope for a career-defining NCAA Tournament run only to have it yanked away less than two weeks before it begins would seem harsh for the sake of being harsh.

Spare me the do-the-crime-do-the-time nonsense. The timing, in this instance, would function as an extra sanction -- the ultimate buzzer-beating gut-punch for a team full of players that did nothing to deserve it. Context matters. As does timing. A ruling can wait.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OKLAHOMA STATE FANS AT OSTATEILLUSTRATED.COM

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IMPENDING COMMIT OF THE WEEK: Charles Bediako

I had the chance to catch up with four-star big Charles Bediako at IMG Academy over the weekend, and the conversation reinforced a few things I already believed. The new bit of information, however, was that the touted center plans to announce his college decision “sometime during the NCAA Tournament.”

Bediako said he is still considering Alabama, Texas, Duke, Michigan and Ohio State. He also said he plans to evaluate how each of his finalists play in early March before making the call later in the month. But his body language, word choice and facial expressions made me think the FutureCast I entered weeks ago remains the smart bet. Sometimes, you can read a lot between the lines.

Bediako seems downright smitten with Nate Oats and the Alabama staff. And while I always hesitate to use the word “lock” because there’s no such thing, it’s gonna take some serious work (and luck) for anyone to steal the 6-foot-11 star away from the Tide at this point.

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FUTURECAST OF THE WEEK: Patrick Baldwin JR to UW-Milwaukee 

In order for Wisconsin-Milwaukee to land a prospect such as Patrick Baldwin Jr. a perfect storm needs to form.

Welcome to the eye of the hurricane.

The No. 4 prospect in the class of 2021, Baldwin once looked to be more than a slight Duke lean despite his father being the head coach at UW-Milwaukee. Those days appear over, however. Duke’s mediocre season certainly hasn't helped highlight the obvious differences between the Blue Devils and Panthers. That’s probably relatively unimportant, though. The bigger selling points revolve around the fact that nobody knows how to play to Baldwin Jr.’s strengths like his father, who has spent a lifetime watching him play basketball

The fact that Baldwin Sr. could use a player like his son to help reverse his 45-69 record as UW-Milwaukee’s head coach should also be considered. The Baldwin-Baldwin connection makes a ton of sense for all involved parties. Sometimes the simplest solution is the correct one.

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PARTING THOUGHT

As we approach the NCAA Tournament, please keep in mind that nobody outside of your pool cares about your bracket. You don’t have to bother the stranger at the bar about it and you certainly don’t have to tell your co-worker about the 13-over-4 upset you picked.

Resists the urge to say “that ruined my bracket” to anyone not specifically asking. It’ll be good for your relationships in the long run. I bring this up only because I care.