Shedon Sharp was still waiting for his first DI scholarship offer two years ago. Now, he is about to be selected in the lottery for the 2022 NBA draft, despite not having played a second of basketball since graduating from high school. Sharpe’s meteoric rise to top prospect and strange draft path are critical to both his perception in the league and the long-term development of his game. While he will eventually find success in the league, he is more likely to be used to advance the agenda of whichever side feels more grounded.
Sharpe is one of those players who can be called promising, just lounging in an empty gym. He has the perfect build for a shooting guard: 6ft 5in tall, 7ft wingspan, broad shoulders and huge arms. His jumping ability is so stunning that 49″ vertical jump rumors (which would be the highest figure in the history of the plant) seem possible, despite the fact that they are completely unreasonable. Sharpe also effortlessly shoots the ball from three-point range, capable of draining shots from difficult indents from behind the NBA line.
Of course, Sharp didn’t become the main prospect competing with the ghosts. He skyrocketed through the recruiter rankings and onto the NBA radar after dominating the best peer competition he could face at the Nike EYBL track, albeit in just 12 games. The numbers he released around this time last year confirm that the shot is on tape and give him confidence that he could be a big hitting defenseman in the NBA.
Sharp went to Kentucky and enrolled in the middle of the season as next year Rookie #1. He chose not to play for the Wildcats, but still enters the draft after being deemed eligible by the league’s office. Having another potentially elite talent in the draft should be exciting for franchises, but instead, Sharpe’s pre-draft process has been full of leaks from teams criticizing his path. When David Aldridge interviewed anonymous executives about Sharpe earlier this month, their response showed just how uncomfortable it is for the league to pick someone who hasn’t faced competition outside of high school.
Western Conference Head #3: How the hell can you be fifth in the draft if you haven’t played in a year and a half? It doesn’t look like it’s (James) Wiseman, but the guy is 7 feet tall. Show me where the 5 (star) shit is. Show me.
NBA teams want all the data they can get before making huge investments with top 10 picks at the top of the draft. They want to discourage the next player in Sharp’s position from trying to enter the league without any college or pro reps because those players inherently feel more risky in the draft. The problem with Sharp, of course, is that passing a player with his talent is as much a gamble as his choice.
Sharp is the Man of Mystery in this year’s draft, a rising talent with superb physique who will go a full year without competing when he makes his NBA debut. How did Sharp put himself in this position and why would the team end up picking him in the lottery? This is what you need to know about the biggest draft mystery.
Sharpe’s transformation into a top recruit happened quickly.
Sharpe has always been considered to have elite athletic talent, raised in London, Ontario, a two-hour drive from Toronto. After playing for a local school during his freshman year, Sharp was selected for the Canada Under-16 team for the 2019 FIBA Americas Championship in Brazil. There, he played with Caleb Hustan, Leonard Miller and Ryan Nembhard in a team that finished with a silver medal after losing to Team USA, which included Jabari Smith Jr., AJ Griffin and Jalen Düren, selected in the 2022 lottery. For the tournament, Sharpe averaged 13 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game on 30 of 38 two-pointers and 4 of 12 three-pointers.
Sharp came to the US when he was transferred to Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas for his sophomore year, but rarely played on the bench. When the pandemic hit and wiped out the massive season that followed, Sharpe got together with Dwayne Washington, director of the Nike EYBL UPLAY club, and honed his individual skill development. At that time, he did not have a rating in most recruiting services.
He then transferred again, this time to Christian City of Dreams near Phoenix. It was then that Sharp began to make his leap into more of a role on the ball. His first college offers to start work shortly thereafter, among Alabama and Oregon. the first wave of schools to give him a scholarship in October 2020.and Kentucky and Kansas followed suit in December.
Sharpe had five-star status ahead of his rising senior year at the EYBL, but it was his performance on the Nike circuit with UPLAY made him the #1 recruit in the country. In 12 games, Sharp averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 56.9% shooting. according to Cerebro Sports. He hit 36.1 percent of his triples in 83 attempts and finished with a 1.8 passing ratio. Those are fantastic numbers from any standpoint, but it’s how Sharp got his buckets that cemented his status as the NBA’s top prospect today.
Schaedon Sharp can jump out of the gym
Sharpe’s explosiveness as a jumper can be seen throughout his limited record of many different types of play. The ideal version of Sharpe in the long run is an incumbent master creator with a three-tier scoring system, but it could be years before that vision is realized. Sharp, meanwhile, has shown an ability to use his rebound to score goals easily without the ball around the basket.
Here are two clips that show Sharp’s explosiveness.
In the first clip, Sharpe recognizes the open space in front of him and crashes into it before ending with a ferocious punch. He is in place of the dunkers in the second clip and launches a powerful dunk from a place above an opponent on the ring. It is incredibly difficult to hit the ball in such a competition without having forward momentum, but Sharpe is such an athlete.
Sharp will also be a threat on offense. We usually think of big balls only as useful in the alleys, but Sharpe’s height and jumping ability give him such a large tackle radius that his NBA team shouldn’t be afraid to use him. Here are two different hits on the ball:
In the first clip, UPLAY pushes the ball up the court so fast it looks like it’s going from an abandoned basket. Sharpe flies down the left side of the court and jumps back two feet to score a cross. The second clip is a standard game for Sharp to cross the ball in half of the court. He runs off the screen, kicks off with one foot and catches the ball in the top of the backcourt before ending up with a ridiculous dunk.
Sharpe’s athleticism can also pay dividends, allowing him to finish nimbly when he’s not dunking, whether he’s on the ball or not. Here are three finishes without a dunk from Sharp that showcase his body control and agility.
The first clip is one of Sharp’s most impressive CDs from EYBL. As the defense takes center, Sharpe dribbles from behind to free himself along the touchline, avoiding a low defender and finishing with a right. The second clip shows Sharp’s rebound and body control with fantastic up and down movement. He just puts his head down and gets to the rim in the third clip that teams would like to see more of.
Schaedon Sharp has an impressive long-range shot.
Sharpe’s 36.1% of three out of 2.5 shots per game in EYBL is more impressive than meets the eye. First, the shooting percentage in EYBL tends to be slightly lower than in college or the NBA, which is understandable for high school students. More importantly, Sharpe mostly shot images that he created.
Here is a selection of some of Sharpe’s best three-point patterns:
A few things pop up:
- The touch of the shot is real. Sharp throws a light ball and often only hits the net. From an inherently “risky” perspective, given the lack of film, it’s safe to picture him as a plus shooter moving forward.
- Sharpe’s creation of space on the setbacks and side steps is advanced beyond his years. This is the fruit of his focus on individual skill development rather than competitive play. Given his size and athleticism, he should be able to create space for his shot even against NBA players.
- Many of them are incredibly difficult. As impressive as it is, it would be nice to see such an electric athlete rely less on intricate setbacks to get his buckets against high schoolers.
- There are many balls on Sharpe’s tape. He seems too ready to slowly practice his step back and not just attack the basket.
Although mostly self-produced clips, Sharp has also demonstrated the versatility of shooting with the EYBL. He has the ability to strike from a medium distance hanging due to his vertical hang time. He also performs well off the ball, demonstrating the ability to run from screens, get up quickly and shoot. Here is one example:
Schaedon Sharp can be anything if he is properly developed.
Sharpe’s status as the top recruit and likely lottery pick is based mostly on his tools. He has the perfect physique for a professional shooting guard with elite jumping ability, great open court speed and a soft shot from long range. The other half of the score is Sharpe’s impressive EYBL numbers. Of course, this was only in the 12-game sample.
Despite all the highlights in the school tape, Sharpe still leaves the raters with questions that cannot be definitively answered until he faces stronger competition. Too often Sharp feels like he settles for hard shots instead of working on easier shots or moving the ball.
He has a tendency to “catch and hold” the ball when NBA players are asked to dribble, pass or shoot in 0.5 seconds. For someone so athletically dynamic, Sharpe should be the dominant north-south driver. It wasn’t always like that. A weak handle and occasional lack of flexibility made his movements more sloppy and complex than they should be.
Defense is likely to be where Sharpe will have to learn the most. His attention to it comes and goes, especially off the ball when he can compromise the team’s entire structure by getting hit back or making a bad interception bid. At the same time, it would be foolish to write him off at this end. If Sharp wasn’t such a gifted scorer, it would be easy to see a coach trying to make him a defender with these tools. While many believe that a good quarterback starts with effort and focus, having the tools—size, speed, quickness, length, and jumping ability—is what gives an NBA defenseman a chance to compete in the first place.
Sharpe has the tools, even if the technique isn’t ready yet.
Here’s the catch with Sharp: He enters the draft like a ball of clay, waiting to be turned into a winner. It will take patience, preparation and organizational investment from the team that recruits him to give him the best chance of success. The tools give Sharp a lot of chances: he can be a great scorer in the NBA, but there are other paths to success if he doesn’t. Maybe he will become a shooter with dynamic movement, or a transition killer, or a switchable flank defender. At this stage, he can be anyone, just based on his physical characteristics.
Sharp’s sample as an elite prospect is really incredibly small – one year of EYBL due to the pandemic and just over a year of top-level production with Dream City. Teams would appreciate any number of extra films, but there’s a reason Sharp didn’t play Kentucky and even turned down an invitation to play for the Canada under-19s last summer. Sharpe’s advisors know he has a relatively high subfloor based only on EYBL tools and tape.
Now Sharpe really has to prove his talent in order to transfer to the court. This is the step everyone is waiting for.