Leading up to the NBA draft on June 23, Yahoo Sports will highlight top prospects. Today's prospect is Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe.
Who is Shaedon Sharpe?
Sharpe is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard who had a meteoric rise in high school from a top-80 recruit to the No. 1 player in the country in under a year. He averaged 21.4 points, six rebounds and three assists in his final high school season. He helped Canada earn the silver medal in the 2019 FIBA U16 Americas Championship, averaging 13 points per game. Last summer, Sharpe dominated Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League, averaging 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per outing.
Sharpe elected to join Kentucky early (after graduating in May and playing fall ball at the prep level for Dream City Christian in Arizona) and was eligible to play in the second semester. His arrival at Kentucky came with a lot of hype and fans were eager to see him lace up for the Wildcats. The notion of "will he" or "won't he" play during the second semester was a hot topic. Head coach John Calipari put it to rest on Feb. 7 stating in a tweet, "After talking with Shaedon and his parents, we want to end all of the speculation by again saying that he will not play for us this season."
Sharpe didn't play and said numerous times that he would be back for the 2021-22 season. After declaring for the draft and maintaining his college eligibility to get feedback from NBA teams, Sharpe announced in April that he would be staying in this year's draft, much to the anger and dismay of Kentucky fans.
Shaedon Sharpe's strengths as a pro
The only body of work scouts have to study Sharpe is from his high school and AAU seasons. His last few games in the fall, Sharpe appeared checked out, knowing he would be arriving in Lexington a few weeks later. When diving into his film, he's one of the best players in transition, has incredible pace to his game and a solid 3-point jumper.
Sharpe elected to sit out and not participate in any of the NBA draft combine testing. He could have done himself a lot of favors in just going through the drills, showcasing his reported 49-inch vertical jump.
Shaedon Sharpe's questions at the next level
Sharpe remains the biggest mystery in the draft. A lot of NBA scouts and front office executives were frustrated that Sharpe didn't play this year, and multiple scouts told Yahoo Sports that Calipari chose what teams were allowed to see in practice when Sharpe worked out this year.
His time off from competitive basketball is a real concern, and the fact he ducked every opportunity to showcase his ability on the court during the pre-draft process doesn't help. With all that being said, Sharpe was the No. 1 player in high school for a reason. The game comes easy to him, and he's extremely talented.
What scouts are saying
Many executives in the lottery are concerned with how Sharpe will adjust to the pace of the NBA game after not logging a single minute of college basketball.
"It's frustrating trying to evaluate a player who hasn't played a competitive game in over a year," one NBA executive told Yahoo Sports. "He has tremendous upside, but there has to be some concern on how much he has or hasn't developed the last year off the court."
Regardless of his situation and not playing all year, Sharpe is still a projected top-10 pick. If he reaches his full potential, he's an Anthony Edwards-like player and could end up being the steal of the draft.