London hoops phenom Shaedon Sharpe eyes NBA draft breakthrough

Shaedon Sharpe was in Charlotte, NC this week for the fourth of his six scheduled pre-draft workouts in NBA cities.

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Shaedon Sharpe was in Charlotte, NC this week for the fourth of his six scheduled pre-draft workouts in NBA cities.

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And at each stop, it’s hard not to think about the history he’s writing for London, his hometown. It has produced NHL stars, Olympic champions and big-name talent in almost every corner of the sports world. But it’s never been the launch pad for a world-class basketball lottery pick.

The 19-year-old is expected to change that in the 2022 NBA draft on Thursday, June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

“I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks,” said the 1.80-meter guard before he was put through his paces by the Hornets, owned by Michael Jordan. “I grew up in London, Ontario, which is better known as hockey town. So it’s about taking basketball to the next level. I am delighted to have the opportunity to somehow put London on this map.”

Five years ago, Dave Sewell immediately saw the possibilities.

“Right from the moment you saw him, you could tell Shae had a chance to do something special in the game,” said the longtime local coach. “He was always extremely athletic for his age and now he’s gone through the roof with that athleticism. He could just pick things up on the fly and his IQ was extremely high.

“He also played football and if he chose to go that route I would say he would be in a similar predicament (with the NFL).”

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Sharpe, already a gym rat, was just getting started at Beal Secondary School and craved more one-on-one skills. Enter Sewell, who was with the Top Raiders program, had worked with pros like Dejan Kravic and grew up with a brother, Pat, who was the top player in Canadian college basketball with Fanshawe in 2007.

“Dave has been a tremendous help to me,” Sharpe said. “(Current Falcons coach) Tony Marcotullio asked him to help me coach. That’s how we got in touch and I’ve been with him ever since. He really pushed me during training. He taught me the game and coached me late into the night and early in the morning.

“He was always there for me when there was no one to help me. When indoor gyms didn’t exist, we just went outside and worked on the game.”

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Sometimes they used the London Lightning’s practice facility. Mostly they shot wherever they landed.

“In terms of skills, our primary focus was to extend his range and make his shot more consistent,” Sewell said. “Well, it’s incredible.”

Most NBA draft forecasters consider Sharpe an unknown because he hasn’t played many games in recent years. Looking for more competition, he went from London to Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kan., and then finished high school with the Dream City Christian Eagles in Arizona.

But any uneasiness is countered by the fact that he has all the tools teams are looking for and has earned a commitment with the Kentucky Wildcats, one of the NCAA’s top basketball powerhouses. He spent the second half of the 2021/22 season with John Calipari’s crew, attending everything but games.

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Shaedon Sharpe and Dave Sewell at the NBA Draft Lottery in Chicago.  (included)
Shaedon Sharpe and Dave Sewell at the NBA Draft Lottery in Chicago. (included)

“When I went to Kansas, it was the first time I’ve been far from home in a long time,” Sharpe said.

“I was a bit homesick, but I got used to it. . . being separated from family and friends. Going to Kentucky and training with the Cats and learning about the pace and physicality of college basketball helped. . . Off the pitch I had a lot of free time after school. This made me want to find a way to manage my day and do extra workouts.

“I learned a lot there.”

There are many recent Sharpe scout films that shed some light on the Uplay Canada program in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. The AAU traveling circle included most of the top picks eligible for the draft.

“If you’re playing against the top 15 there and you’re still No. 1, that speaks for itself,” Sewell said.

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Kravic, 31, who played in Spain last season, has been watching Sharpe from afar and through his relationship with Sewell. He cheers on his fellow Londoner.

“He’s an incredible talent,” the seven-foot-tall former Westminster Wildcat said via text message. “Full package. Time will tell when he gets drafted but I’d definitely be shocked if he doesn’t come in 10th place. In my opinion he’s in the top 5.”

Being in this stratosphere illuminates the decision to declare yourself for the draft and drop out of school. This is a glorious chance to make his dream come true

“I don’t think it was hard,” Sharpe said. “I heard from Coach Cal that I might be a top 10 draft pick and I don’t know what person would turn that down.

“Now we will see what comes.”

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There should be a lot of faith in Canadian talent these days.

Kitchener’s Jamal Murray, the star of the Denver Nuggets, went 7th overall six years ago. Mississauga’s RJ Barrett was the Knicks’ third pick of 2019.

Sharpe is poised to take on the nation’s greatest players in time.

“He certainly has a chance to be among those names — (Steve) Nash, Murray, Barrett,” Sewell said. “Shae is a phenomenal kid and loves to compete on the court. It was a great experience and I’m glad he somehow brought me along and let me be a part of this process.”


(Results from last month’s NBA Draft Lottery)

1. Orlando Magic

2. Thunder from Oklahoma City

3. Houston missiles

4. Kings of Sacramento

5. Detroit piston

6. Indiana Pacers

7. Portland Trailblazer

8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers)

9.San Antonio Spurs

10. Washington Wizards

11.New York Knicks

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (by Clippers)

13. Charlotte Hornet

14th Cleveland Cavaliers


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