With the offseason now underway, it won’t be much longer until we learn if Oscar Tshiebwe and/or Shaedon Sharpe will test the NBA waters.
The April 24th NBA early entry deadline is 24 days away, so we’re just under four weeks until the deadline for Tshiebwe and Sharpe to announce their intentions. If one or both declare for the draft, they would have until June 1st to make a final decision on staying at UK or going pro.
Tshiebwe, the National Player of the Year, could return for what would be his senior season of college basketball, especially if NIL gets fully worked out for him. For now, he can only do minimal deals that won’t bring in the millions of dollars that could sway him back to Lexington so he can take care of his family.
As for Sharpe, the former No. 1 overall recruit in the 2022 class is now in position to be a top-10 pick in this year’s NBA Draft after reclassifying into the 2021 class. It initially looked like he wouldn’t be eligible for this year’s draft, but it now appears he’s found a loophole that will allow him to be eligible for it.
For now, my guess is both players will be in the pros next fall, but not all hope is lost.
According to KSR’s Jack Pilgrim, there’s still optimism within the walls of the Joe Craft Center that Sharpe will stick with the Wildcats for next season.
Despite clear skepticism in national basketball circles, the school privately remains optimistic Sharpe will ultimately decide to turn down the draft and play for Kentucky next season.
With such a small sample size of live game film, NBA teams are uncertain about Sharpe as a top-five pick, and potentially even top-10. It’s an area of the draft jobs are kept and lost in the league, and Sharpe is a risk with no college experience — practice scrimmages don’t suffice. They know he can dominate in workouts, but can he be a day-one contributor in the NBA?
Kentucky believes those questions will be what ultimately keeps him in Lexington next year, putting him in prime position to be a top-three pick in 2023.
Again, don’t get your hopes up on this, but it is nice to know there’s still some sliver of hope.
As for Tshiebwe, it sounds like he really wants to be back this fall, but he also wants to start making big money so he can take care of his family. That’s why Pilgrim says this decision will likely come down to whether or not Tshiebwe can fully take advantage of NIL and bring in millions.
Tshiebwe’s decision will come down to NIL. If federal legislation is passed or a clear loophole is found — one all parties involved are comfortable signing off on — that will allow him to make money with zero restrictions, the expectation is that he returns to Kentucky. It’s what Tshiebwe prefers.
If not, he will almost certainly go pro. It’s a complicated decision, one out of the standout center’s hands at this point in time.
It’s really hard to tell how this will go with Tshiebwe since it’s essentially coming down to if the right federal legislation is passed or is UK finds a workaround.
The good news is there are still two full months left until Tshiebwe has to make a final decision, assuming he does end up testing the waters. Just getting one of these guys back could be what makes next season’s team a true Final Four contender.