Why didn’t Shaedon Sharpe play for Kentucky? How decision to skip college impacts NBA Draft lottery

Shaedon Sharpe should be one of the most exciting players in college basketball in the 2021-22 season.

Sharpe, the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2022 class, was reclassified to the 2021 class, choosing among other things to attend Kentucky over offers from Kansas and the NBA G League. He eventually settled on Kentucky and would be a dynamic playmaker for the Wildcats.

Instead, he didn’t play at all.

MORE: The best prop bets for the 2022 NBA draft, including Shaedon Sharpe’s landing

Sharpe sat out his freshmen’s entire season and never got into a game for the John Caliparis Wildcats. Then, on April 21, 2022, Sharpe officially declared himself a pick for the 2022 NBA draft. He remained in the player pool and guaranteed that he would never play a collegiate-level game.

Sharpe’s inactivity in college now shrouds him in mystery ahead of the 2022 NBA draft. And the 1.80 meter tall, 19-year-old prospect from Ontario understands why teams are cautious about him.

“I feel like there’s a conundrum just because I haven’t played in about a year. The last game was in high school, so I feel like there’s curiosity and mystery with me,” Sharpe said during a pre-draft press conference on Friday. “But like I said, [I’m] I’m in the gym right now getting ready.”

Because of this mystery, Sharpe’s response to questions about his playing time was always expected to be critical. And on Friday, he explained exactly why not playing for the Wildcats and going straight to the NBA was in his best interest.

MORE: Shaedon Sharpe 2022 NBA Draft Prospect Profile

Why didn’t Shaedon Sharpe play in Kentucky?

As Sharpe explained during Friday’s press conference, he’s thought a lot about whether or not to play in Kentucky. He consulted with his coaches and family as he weighed his options.

“I spoke to you [coach John Calipari] about it, my coach, coach, even my parents,” Sharpe said. “But at the end of the day it was my decision not to play.”

So the decision was made by Sharpe’s own will. And for him it all came down to one thing: he knew he could always get better at basketball without playing.

“My thought process as an athlete, as a basketball player, really just got better and better,” Sharpe said. “So every day I was just in the gym and working out. Really for me, whatever happens, I’d be ready for it.”

Sharpe believes he made progress during his lonely year in Kentucky. As such, he is more than happy with his decision to sit out the 2021-22 college basketball season.

“Like I said, everything happens for a reason. So I really don’t regret it [not] play,” Sharpe said. “I mean, I work with NBA teams now. So I guess I did something right.”

In fact, Sharpe gets a lot of attention from NBA teams. He will certainly be selected early in the 2022 NBA draft; it’s just a matter of when.

Shaedon Sharpe Draft Stocks, Mock Draft Projections

Almost every recent bill draft has Sharpe listed as a lottery pick, and the majority of these have Sharpe listed as a top 10 pick.

SN’s Kyle Irving lets Sharpe go to the Pistons with the No. 5 overall pick in his latest mock. Here’s what he said about the Kentucky product’s potential fit in Detroit:

Sharpe is a bit of a mystery man after declaring for the draft without playing a single game for Kentucky, but his elite scoring ability and erratic athleticism are match heaven next to a playmaker of Cunningham’s caliber. Sharpe fills the void for a shot creator in Detroit to complete an impressive and young offensive trio alongside Cunningham and sniper Saddiq Bey.

MORE: Click to see SN’s full 2022 NBA Mock Draft

While Sharpe doesn’t make the top 5, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to last long after that. But if he slips out of the top 10, his playing time — or lack thereof — may be to blame.

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