Canadian guard and Kentucky product Shaedon Sharpe (London, ON) made shockwaves when he elected to declare for the 2022 NBA Draft.
The former No. 1 recruit in the high school class of 2022 went through early enrollment at Kentucky, living on campus while taking classes and practicing with the basketball team a year ahead of schedule. Sharpe was cleared to suit up for the Wildcats this season, but the 18-year-old never ended up taking the floor, leaving Big Blue Nation without having played a single game.
If you're wondering how Sharpe is eligible for the NBA Draft despite not playing in college, the league's rule is that entrants in the draft must be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school from the start of their first NBA season. Sharpe turns 19 on May 30th and will be a year removed from high school by the start of the 2022-23 season, checking both of those boxes.
As a potential top-10 pick in this year's draft, Sharpe is capitalizing on the opportunity to achieve a dream of reaching the NBA. But what would the biggest wildcard in the 2022 NBA Draft class bring to the franchise that selects him?
Shaedon Sharpe 2022 NBA Draft profile
At 6-foot-6, 200 pounds with a reported 7-foot wingspan, Sharpe has the size and length of a prototypical shooting guard at the NBA level.
The first thing that will stand out is his explosive leaping ability, using his quick-twitch athleticism to elevate when attacking the rim, punishing anyone in his path.
Sharpe is more powerful than he is shifty, but he still changes direction well off the dribble and has great body control when he gets downhill in the paint. He's always playing at his own pace and you can never speed him up.
He's an ambidextrous driver and finisher, keeping defenders off-guard with the willingness to attack with either hand.
You can see how easy it is for him to rise up at an instance and finish above the rim.
That same leaping ability gives him an advanced layup package and he's already developed an NBA-ready arsenal of stepbacks and gathers to create his own shot from the perimeter.
That size-up dribble into a behind-the-back stepback is lethal – and he was only 17 at the time of that clip. As you can see, he doesn't need much space to get a shot off and he's a tough-shot maker.
Sharpe can make an impact as a scorer with or without the ball in his hands, more than comfortable coming off of screens to knock down jumpers or cutting to the hoop for a lob or easy layup.
And the scariest part is he is only getting more athletic and his handle is looking much sharper, as evidenced by a recent pre-draft workout posted by ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony.
Watched Shaedon Sharpe in a competitive one on one workout today. Combination of size, length, frame, fluidity, scoring instincts and defensive versatility are incredibly impressive. Looks like the No. 1 pick in the draft in this setting. Talent. pic.twitter.com/cezR0sPHOk— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) April 24, 2022
Sharpe is levitating in that second dunk.
The 18-year-old is a special talent with a limitless ceiling, well-worthy of a top-10 pick despite never playing a game at the Division-I level.
While he's known for his offensive prowess, Sharpe still has to develop in some key areas to reach his full potential in the NBA. He can make simple reads, but he's not an advanced playmaker by any means, which could limit him to strictly being a scorer to start his career.
He'll have to become more comfortable operating with the ball in his hands in pick-and-roll scenarios, which are the bread and butter of NBA offenses. He's a streaky shooter and has a tendency to settle for jumpers when he could attack the basket, but iffy shot selection often goes hand-in-hand with being the best player on the floor in high school.
Defensively, Sharpe isn't super active or disruptive, but he does have the measurables to one day be a solid perimeter defender. He possesses the physicality and lateral quickness, so it could come down to having the attitude and desire to be a stopper.
Since he never suited up for Kentucky, the last time Sharpe has played competitively was in high school, where the talent disparity is incomparable to going up against the best players in the world. It will be interesting to see how Sharpe responds to a drastic change in the level of competition.