Major move looms for Canadian Shaedon Sharpe as NBA nods to college arrival

When Shaedon Sharpe arrived on the University of Kentucky campus, he received an unusually calm reception compared to most of basketball’s top recruits.

The 18-year-old has not been introduced to pyrotechnics and a laser light shows the way freshman John Wall was nearly 13 years ago in October 2009. In fact, the London, En Ontario, didn’t even set foot on campus for the first time as a new member of the Wildcats until the start of the new year, when he quietly landed and just started getting to work.

Despite Sharpe’s status as the top freshman in high school, there wasn’t as much fanfare surrounding his arrival at Lexington as there were questions and intrigue.

Sharpe was listed as the No. 1 recruit for the Class of 2022 on numerous boards, including ESPN, but he decided to forgo his senior year at Dream City Christian Preparatory School in Glendale, Arizona, choosing to graduate because he had the necessary credits to do so.

And since Sharpe had already committed to Kentucky in September 2021, he decided he would arrive on campus early in order to prepare for the 2022 college season.

Sharpe takes part in warm-ups before a game in January. (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

However, given that Sharpe will turn 19 in May and will have a full season out of high school, he is eligible to declare himself for the 2022 NBA Draft in June.

According to a recent ESPN draft, Sharpe would be the seventh overall pick in the draft, although he has yet to fit a single second for Kentucky. He could make more than US$4.5 million next season if he’s selected seventh overall in a year when there’s no guarantee he’ll make Kentucky games.

“We’re going to bring him in slowly. I want him in practice,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said on his weekly radio show shortly after Sharpe arrived on campus. . “I want to see him fly on the pitch and play that way and have that mentality.

“It takes time to teach him. I want to see if he can make shots while playing that fast and all that. But he’s not ready to play in games yet.”

Play with the future

Sharpe faces a tough decision: stick to the plan and stay in college to prepare for next season or leave early for a big paycheck. Anyway, the young man seems to be playing with his future.

If he chooses to stay in college for next season, the risk of injury and dropping his draft stock — and leaving money on the table — is a real possibility. On the other hand, if his prep work goes well, he has the potential to improve his stock where he is currently projected and possibly enter the discussion of the top three picks in the 2023 draft.

It seems Sharpe’s camp is leaning towards the latter, as that has always been the strategy.

“He weighs nothing,” said Dwayne Washington, an adviser to Sharpe and director of UPLAY Canada, a Hamilton-based youth basketball program that counts NBA star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and pick first-rounder Josh Primo.

“It came [to Kentucky] to prepare for next year. If the team ends up using him because they think they need him, then he will play this year, but his plan was to come and prepare for next year.

“He went to Kentucky knowing he was already in the top 10, knowing he was [a lottery pick] already,” Washington added. ” Right now, [the information about Sharpe’s draft eligibility] is only two weeks old, but we’ve known about it for four or five months, so I can honestly say it’s a wait-and-see, ie it’s gearing up to come back next year.

“Now if the news comes back later in the year, then fine. So everything is an option, but we are just focused on preparing for next year.”

A huge talent

The fact that Sharpe even has the ability to think about staying a year behind knowing the NBA can wait is a testament to his immense talent.

An explosive, athletic, six-foot-five, 200-pound shooting guard with excellent shooting mechanics, Sharpe’s physical and skill package has scouts believing he could have NBA star potential in his future. .

“He’s a three-tier scorer with really good footwork and great shooting,” said Wes Brown, a Canadian basketball scout who’s been watching Sharpe since he was about 15 years old. “But more than that, he can also score without the ball, which sets him apart and allows him to be successful wherever he goes.”

“He takes pages from some of the other shooters out there who have shown how to do it,” Washington said. “The Klay Thompsons, Devin Bookers, etc.”

For now, Sharpe is still a student who has just arrived on campus and is trying to acclimatize to his new surroundings. It takes time because he is a naturally quiet person, but Sharpe begins to open up.

“You can tell now that he’s starting to settle in, get comfortable and figure out his routine,” Kentucky assistant coach Jai Lucas said. “You can see him kind of filling in with his teammates and his personality and just like it starts to come out.”

How long Sharpe will be a teammate of these new friends he is making remains unclear.

Current Detroit Pistons guard Hamidou Diallo had a similar experience to Sharpe when he came to campus from Kentucky during the 2016-17 season and donned a red shirt that season, only competing in training, before playing the following season.

Sharpe has experience with the Canadian national team. He helped Canada win the silver medal at the 2019 FIBA ​​Americas Under-16 Championship.

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