Shaedon Sharpe

Shaedon Sharpe will not play for Kentucky next season after sitting out this season following his mid-year enrollment. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Shaedon Sharpe is the next …

That is a daunting blank to fill in, isn’t it?

One of the toughest in years, right?

I read all the platitudes and hype and love and baloney that Sharpe has stirred prior to the NBA Draft and I have to begin with this question:

How can you fill in that blank?

You can’t. I certainly can’t.

You can argue that Sharpe used the University of Kentucky, taking advantage of all the perks and exposure and practice competition without giving back much to become the greatest unknown in the 2022 NBA Draft.

In a season when UK needed another healthy guard, another fearsome scorer to ease the defensive crowd around Oscar Tshiebwe, another player with NBA talent, Sharpe declined to put Kentucky’s interests ahead of his interests to help the cause.

By definition, Sharpe was an Example A of a Players First guy — and I hope UK coach John Calipari does not repeat the pattern by bringing the next Shaedon Sharpe to Lexington.

Find somebody who will at least pretend that Final Four weekend is a bigger deal than NBA Draft night.

Or, you can argue that Kentucky basketball will benefit from any reflected glory that Sharpe generates in the NBA.

If he storms into the league and becomes the NBA Rookie of the Year, Kentucky and Calipari will get a splash of credit. Ditto if he blossoms a bit later (like most players) and grows into at least an NBA starter and occasional all-star.

The preparation all began at Kentucky, right?

The accommodations that Calipari made for Sharpe at Kentucky after the player arrived from Dream City Christian Academy in Phoenix, Arizona were not meant to impress the UK fan base. Sorry.

They were made to impress the next great 5-star recruit, hopefully a 5-star recruit who will do something as insignificant as playing a game for the Wildcats and assist the program in its quest to reach another Final Four.

Hat tip to Sharpe and his advisors. They played the system like a Stradivarius, rolling toward the top of the first round without the risk of injury or being exposed to top competition. They were not going to risk becoming the next Skal Labissiere. No way.

But, back to the original question: Shaedon Sharpe is the next …?

I don’t know.

How can you be confident Sharpe will blow into the NBA from his spot on the fringe of the UK basketball program and turn the NBA upside down?

Because his jump shot looked so pure during Kentucky pregame warmups? I saw one analyst mention that.

Aaron Harrison and James Young made a lot of shots in warmups — and games. Neither has played in the NBA after their short careers ended 2018.

Sharpe is considered a quicker, stronger, superior athlete to those two. Will that translate into Sharpe becoming the next Klay Thompson?

I don’t know.

Sharpe has one quality you will hear thrown around like confetti during television coverage of the draft on ABC and ESPN.

That would be length. Sharpe stands 6 feet, 5 inches tall, weighs about 215 pounds and flashed a wingspan of nearly 7 feet.

I’m not anti-wingspan. I’m just not prepared to use wingspan to project a player is on the fast track to become the next Devin Booker?

Or would it be the next Kevin Knox, Malik Monk or Trey Lyles?

The last three former UK players I mentioned were all selected higher in their draft classes than Booker was taken in his class when the Suns selected him 13th in 2015.

Booker, remember, was taken after D’Angelo Russell (second pick), Jahlil Okafor (third pick), Mario Hezonja (fifth pick), Willie Cauley-Stein (sixth pick), Emmanuel Mudiay (seventh pick); Stanley Johnson (eighth pick), Frank Kaminsky (ninth pick) and Lyles (12th) pick seven embarrassing years ago.

Ugh. Somebody likely got fired over those picks.

This drafting is humbling stuff. It’s hard enough for NBA teams when they’ve had an opportunity to watch guys play 35 college games, including a few in the hyped environment of the NCAA Tournament.

This year it certainly appears there will be a team selecting inside the NBA Draft lottery (first 14 picks) willing to select Sharpe because he was terrific in the Peach Jam, averaging 22.6 points on the Nike EYBL AAU circuit.

Will that be enough to get Sharpe taken as high as No. 5 by the Detroit Pistons, as several mock drafts have forecast?

I’ve also seen him slotted at 6 to the Pacers and 7 to the Trailblazers. Definitely in the top 10.

Shaedon Sharpe is the next …

“I see myself as being one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball,” Sharpe said during one of his rare pre-draft interview.

We’re about to find out.

Copyright 2022 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.