Shaedon Sharpe was the top player in the 2022 class before deciding to reclassify in 2021. After the reclassification, he finished third in the recruit rankings, behind Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero.
There was a lot of promise and a lot of talent in this high school star.
But then the tape stops.
There were no games to play or a reputation to build for Sharpe. He enrolled early in Kentucky after regrading and taking over the NCAA machinery. The college basketball governing body never acquitted him, and Kentucky didn’t want to risk playing him and ineligible to play midseason.
They closed him before the season started. And so the debate began.
NBA scouts are divided over Sharpe. Some like the potential it has to offer, but others are tired of the bust potential it also brings. Most, if not all, of the concerns stem from Sharpe missing the entire year. He hasn’t played organized basketball outside of practice in Kentucky for a year and a half.
And ever since Sharpe signed up for the NBA draft in April, the scouts have been trying to figure out this intriguing prospect.
So the question remains, who is Shaedon Sharpe?
Shaedon Sharpe could be the best prospect in this NBA draft. But his sitting out of the year because of the NCAA machinery leaves him with a huge mystery that goes into this draft.
First off, Shaedon Sharpe is a 19-year-old shooting guard from London, Ontario, Canada. He helped Team Canada win a silver medal at the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championships.
On that team, he was the third-best scorer with 13 points per game on 68% shooting from the field. He starred alongside fellow top prospects Caleb Houston and Ryan Nembhard.
Sharpe did not represent Canada at the 2021 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup alongside Houston and Nembhard.
He hopped around a bit in his high school career and moved to the United States in his sophomore year.
In his freshman year he played for HB Beal Secondary School in Canada. There he led his school to an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association championship. He then moved to Bel Aire, Kansas for his sophomore season to play for powerhouse Sunrise Christian Academy, where he averaged just 6 points per game.
He transferred again for his junior year. This time to Dream City Christian School in Glendale, Arizona, where he took on the biggest role of his high school career. In 12 games during his junior year, he averaged 21.4 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1 block per game. Sharpe shot an impressive 60.8 percent from the field, but only shot 18.8 percent (3 of 16) from three.
Sharpe didn’t gain much recognition before his junior year. He was originally a 4-star recruit while at Sunrise Christian Academy
For most of his high school career, Sharpe wasn’t on many people’s radars. But his ranking rose after a strong performance in the Nike EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League, widely regarded as one of the top AAU circuits in the country).
In the league, he averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He also shot 36.4 percent (28 of 77) from three-point range, giving the scouts consolation despite his poor shooting while playing for Dream City.
When his junior year was over, he was ranked top of his class by Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports.
But in November, Sharpe decided to enroll and enroll in Kentucky a semester early. He played his final high school game, which was televised nationally on ESPN against Prolific Prep on October 17, 2021.
The plan was to play redshirt for the rest of the year and work to improve his game for the 2023 college basketball season.
And though Kentucky fans were clamoring for him, coach John Calipari claimed he wouldn’t play him in the 2022 season. The NCAA offered little relief when they couldn’t clear him to play.
John Calipari had done the same thing with Hamidou Diallo in 2017, so it wasn’t unusual. And despite Sharpe’s obvious potential, it was widely believed that he would return to Kentucky and essentially play what would have been his freshman season anyway.
Also, the 2022 NBA draft wasn’t even in the realm of possibility as it was previously believed that Sharpe would not be eligible as he would not be a year away from high school.
But to add to the confusion, Sharpe was able to reveal that he graduated in May 2021 thanks to his play on the high school prep track, rather than playing for a traditional high school.
On the pre-season, any game played in the fall counts as scrimmage and does not count towards the regular season schedule.
This satisfied the NBA’s rule that all domestic prospects should be one year out of high school, and made him eligible for the 2022 NBA draft. A few months ago, he was officially drafted and is now forecast to go into the Top 5 to get into the middle of the lottery.
Now the question is, what are the Boy Scouts making of his game and how much faith can they have in his high school ribbon?
Sharpe was 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 198 pounds with a notable wingspan of 6 feet 11.5 and a standing reach of 8 feet 7.5 at the NBA draft combine. He has great height and athleticism for an NBA wing.
Insults are easy for him. Scouts describe him as a bouncy athlete with an elite ability to play through contact and land on the edge.
If Sharpe’s outside shot falls, he’ll be able to drive past defenders who are running at him at close range. And it has a fade-away and step-back jumper for an easy shot when the three don’t fall.
He needs to work on the consistency of his jump shot, but his shot form is NBA caliber so there’s hope he’ll adjust quickly.
With a wide span, Sharpe could also develop into a good defender if he focuses on that. Although that kind of intensity can still be seen.
Areas where he needs to improve include his ball handling, shot selection and dribbling speed.
The mystery surrounding Sharpe adds to his boom-or-bust prospects. The last time he would have taken to the court for a game was in high school before he plays in summer league.
The story of players making a jump similar to Sharpe’s is more common than you might think. In recent drafts, there have been players who chose to skip college to train and others who were five-year-old high school players who were draft-eligible.
But they usually played whether they chose to go to the G-League or go abroad for their gap year. There are few players who simply sit out a whole year.
Mitchell Robinson left western Kentucky to train for the NBA after failing to keep his grades to remain eligible. Anfernee Simmons was a five-year-old high school basketball player who decided to skip college altogether. And Darius Bazley left Syracuse and the G-League to train for the NBA.
But for every success story, there are other players struggling to make the transition, like Thon Maker and Jalen Lecque.
Sharpe’s success will largely depend on where he lands.
If drafted into an organization with patience and a good development program for their young players, then he will develop into the player many believe he can be.
But the potential is undoubtedly there. He’s someone who sits front and center on the draft boards, even for teams. And everyone is just trying to get an idea of who this guy is before they sit down to make their choice.