• Sudeep Tumma

Scouting Report: Shaedon Sharpe Is This Draft's Most Mysterious (And Possibly Best) Prospect

Doesn't mean he doesn't have talent.

In every draft, there always seems to be one highly-coveted prospect who carries a bevy of risks because he decided to declare to the draft a year early.

This year’s version is Shaedon Sharpe. The No. 1 recruit of the 2022 high school class was set to spend his freshman year at Kentucky, but he graduated high school a semester early and has been with the team since January.

Sharpe didn’t play a single minute for the Wildcats this season, but he practiced with them and earned some raving reports.

The 6-6, 200-pound shooting guard mulled over spending the 2022-23 season in college but ultimately decided to dart for the NBA.

Typically, prospects like Sharpe typically see their draft stock tumble a bit because of the lack of college, international or any equivalent experience. But Sharpe’s top-5 projection remains firm — a testament to the immense talent, athleticism and upside he exudes.

Along with a 7-0 wingspan, Sharpe’s prototypical size and NBA-record 49-inch vertical headline his gaudy list of physical tools.

When you mix that with his ability to seamlessly score at all three levels, it’s easy to fall in love with the guy. The guy averaged 24.1 points his junior year of high school.

Sharpe’s game begins with his potent stroke from deep NBA range. With clean mechanics, Sharpe is willing to pull up off the dribble or hit spot-up opportunities with equal accuracy. He possesses limitless range and is willing to take contested triples.

He doesn’t have overly fancy handles, but he’s got steady handling ability mixed with plus straight-line speed and solid acceleration traits.

With the ball in his hands, Sharpe can size up a defender, attack downhill, stop on a dime and garnish space with a sweet stepback or sidestep move.

According to ESPN’s database, Sharpe shot 34.6% on 107 attempts, which makes him a somewhat streaky shooter.

Still, he’s quite effective behind the arc, and also in the mid-range area.

He does a sound job settling into open spaces then pulling up to hit well-timed jumpers. With a high-release point on his shot, he elevates well to hit those jumpers.

Then when he gets downhill, Sharpe is a problem attacking the rim. He brings top-tier finishing ability along with superb body control, balance and enough power to finish through contact.

Sharpe attacks with either hand, but he’s a right hand dominated finisher. An ample first step allows him to thrive at the rim.

While he’s a daunting finisher, Sharpe’s arsenal of moves is somewhat elementary at this point. His layup package is simple, but his athleticism and physical tools aid him in that category. The upside remains for him to add even more moves.

Sharpe seems to make wise decisions in pick-and-roll and patiently finds open space to shoot, finish or pass to an open teammate.

It’s interesting because Sharpe is somewhat unengaged when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, but he makes some high-level opportunistic cuts when his defender falls asleep.

Some of those come off set plays, and just a sliver of space opens the cutting lane for Sharpe to dive to the rim and — often — become a lob threat. As he is in transition as well with his speed and open-court prowess.

As you can imagine, Sharpe is a theatrical dunker.

His overall scoring package is daunting, but you’d like to see him settle for jumpers a little less and attack the rim more.

As a playmaker, Sharpe exhibits pristine passing vision. He just seems to have an innate ability to find open guys when he’s in tough situations.

He slings one-hand passes with good velocity, nice transition bounce passes and good jump/touch passes. His nuanced playmaking is a strong complement to his scoring ability. Sharpe tallied 2.7 assists per game in the 2021 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.

Sharpe also averaged 5.8 rebounds in the EBYL, but his effort is below par.

He mostly watches the ball when it goes up, often walking away and/or releasing in transition before the rebound is corralled. The boards he does grab are because he is in the area and boasts an obscene vertical.

Peculiar enough, Sharpe displays more prowess on the offensive glass. He’s willing to crash some boards and follow up shots, typically when his defender falls asleep.

With his physical tools, Sharpe’s rebounding upside is off the charts. It’s just going to come down to how much effort he puts in that department.

Which is a similar conundrum to his defense.

Sharpe owns all the physical tools to develop into an excellent defender. But right now, he’s an inconsistent defender in almost every facet.

His defensive intensity is erratic. On some plays, he’ll stick one-on-one and extend out to play pressure defense. Then others, he’ll just give up halfway through and stop sliding and just watch the ball.

Whether it’s help defense, sticking off-ball on his man or fighting in pick-and-rolls, Sharpe needs to focus up to blossom into a two-way threat.

And with his vertical, Sharpe has immense shot-blocking upside. He doesn’t put enough effort sliding over to contest. But when he does, Sharpe can swat away some shots.

Again, with more effort, he can be a valuable block guy.

So when you look at the holistic scope, there’s so much to admire with Sharpe. But the concerns can be worrisome for many.

Sharpe is tabbed as an emotionless guy who doesn’t show much fiery competitiveness on the floor. We’ve seen players flourish with that mentality, and we’ve seen players falter with that mentality.

But the most crucial aspect: Sharpe is taking a massive leap from high school straight to the pros, which is an arduous task for anyone in that position.

Perhaps that won’t hinder him from reaching stardom. Or perhaps it will.

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