Kentucky Wildcats fans have been clamoring for a No. 1 overall prospect in Lexington for what seems like an eternity now.
Despite UK’s continued overall dominance on the recruiting trail, there’s no getting around the fact that John Calipari has consistently been bested for the top guys over the past several years.
Recent examples would include losing Cade Cunningham to Oklahoma State, missing on James Wiseman to Memphis, and now the fresh pain of swinging and missing on another Jalen Duren, also to Penny Hardaway’s Tigers.
However, the drought is over.
Shaedon Sharpe — the No. 1 player in the Class of 2022 — has committed to play for the Wildcats. Sharpe chose Kentucky over Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma State, and the G-League Ignite.
Breaking: Shaedon Sharpe, the No. 1 overall recruit in ESPN’s 2022 rankings, has committed to @KentuckyMBB.@DraftExpress | @ShaedonSharpe pic.twitter.com/PuQwp4jQJS— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 7, 2021
And I rock Kentucky Blue ⚪️ COMMITTED! @KentuckyMBB #bbn #mytoolbox pic.twitter.com/YedAGBFyhq— Shaedon Sharpe (@ShaedonSharpe) September 7, 2021
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds by ESPN, Sharpe hails from from London, Ontario and becomes the latest Canadian to play for the Cats, joining the likes of Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander among others.
Sharpe wasn’t always a big-time recruit, as he only saw his stock skyrocket after a big junior season and a strong showing on this year’s AAU circuit. His performance over the course of the Nike EYBL event solidified his spot as one of the top players in the Class of 2022.
Thankfully, Sharpe had been on UK’s radar for some time prior to the Peach Jam. The Cats were already positioned well considering they extended an offer back in December, and Sharpe was recently on campus for an official visit back in June. He took a second trip to Lexington this past week.
For the past several weeks leading up to his commitment, 247 Sports’ Crystal Ball had 100% of the predictions logged for Kentucky, as did the Rivals FutureCasts.
Did Shaedon Sharpe’s commitment come as a surprise?
No, it didn’t.
But that surely shouldn’t take away from the magnitude of this addition for John Calipari and his staff.
Adding a silky-smooth 6-foot-5 shooting guard who currently holds the No. 1 spot at On3, ESPN and Rivals makes it feel like previous years when Kentucky was landing a top prospect in just about every recruiting cycle.
Based on the polished talker he showed this summer, it’d be a surprise if Sharpe doesn’t keep his name in the mix as a top-five prospect in the final rankings for most of the major scouting services.
Now that he’s done terrorizing the AAU Circuit Shaedon, Sharpe plans to return to Dream Christian in Glendale (AZ) and complete his senior season.
Adding an alpha-type recruit such as Sharpe to the class will undoubtedly start the process of pieces starting falling into place.
Pairing his game with the dynamic Skyy Clark, UK’s only other 2022 commit, will allow the UK coaching staff to recruit to need and sell the benefits of playing with two elite guards.
Sharpe has considerable ties on the AAU scene which will create a ton of recruiting opportunities for the future Wildcat. This is a moment that shouldn’t be undervalued in terms of what it could mean for the program.
Not only will it position the Cats better for a potential title run in 2023, but it also just could play a role in swaying momentum back on UK’s side on the national recruiting scene.
Despite missing in Jalen Duren, John Calipari and his newly rejuvenated coaching staff are making a major statement this summer. Their presence and visibility hasn't gone unnoticed.
Shaedon Sharpe will come to Lexington carrying the baggage of high expectations, but the director of his Uplay Canada team, Dwayne Washington, had this to say in June.
“Shaedon’s glass is half full, and he knows it. He’s willing to learn and grow without taking things personal. He’s willing to go through the fire. If you’re going to go to a school like Kentucky, you can’t have people telling you you’re great. You have to have people telling you what you’re not good at. ‘Are you ready to get coached? Are you ready to go to the next level?’ He’s willing to receive the information — constructive criticism — and play in a daily competitive environment.” Washington told Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader.
Here is ESPN’s breakdown of Sharpe:
Sharpe ascended to the No. 1 spot because of his elite ability to produce points within a team flow. At 22 points per game (shooting 48% from the floor and 36% from 3), he finished third in the Nike EYBL in scoring.
A strong and explosive shooting guard, he is a shot maker both off the dribble and from a catch-and-shoot scenario. He has demonstrated the exceptional ability to create his own shot as well. Whether it’s a set play or a broken play, Sharpe will make opponents pay.
Shape is outstanding from the mid-range and is a consistent transition pull-up 3-point shooter. He drives the ball with a quick first step and can leverage himself by getting low and keeping defenders on his hip. His shooting range and accuracy are both on point in large part because of his shoot readiness, elevation to lift up over defenders and balanced finish.
“I coached Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, RJ Barrett and Caleb Houstan. Shaedon is just as talented,” said Sharpe’s coach, UPLAY director Dwayne Washington. “He is a simple kid — a no-limelight guy. He plays to win and loves competitive matchups. Shadeon falls in love with the process of improving. That’s what makes him special.”
Sharpe, who also averages 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists, has already been offered a two-year deal worth $1.5 million to play in the G League, according to Washington. Sharpe also visited Arizona and Kentucky and is expected to make a decision soon.
The Cats secured an elite talent, and the Big Blue Nation should rejoice.
That said, in the meantime, drool over some highlights and make sure you watch Shaedon Sharpe every chance you get this summer.
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