Canadian Shaedon Sharpe’s NBA moment will come, when the time is right
Years before Shaedon Sharpe went from an unknown to one of the most talked-about NBA draft prospects, he was cut from Team Ontario at the age of 15.
His father, Robert, remembers that life-shaping day as if it were yesterday. They had just left tryouts at the University of Toronto and were walking together after getting the crushing news. Shaedon turned to his dad and said: “I can’t believe I got cut.”
Robert’s heart dropped. He tried to reassure his son, and promised he would bounce back.
“It just made him hungrier to go out and prove everybody wrong,” Robert Sharpe told the Star in a phone interview. “The work ethic in practice was escalated. He constantly just wanted to be in the gym. We saw a change shortly after that.”
Shaedon is now enrolled at the University of Kentucky, one of the NCAA’s top men’s basketball programs, after being ranked by ESPN as the No. 1 high school student in his class.
But with March Madness about to start this week, you won’t see Shaedon on the court. He enrolled at Kentucky, after graduating early from high school, to develop his skills for the next college season. He’s practising with the team, helping the Wildcats prepare for the annual tournament where they are a No. 2 seed.
There’s speculation among NBA draft junkies, however, that the six-foot-six guard won’t even play one game in the NCAA. The latest ESPN mock draft predicts Shaedon would be a top-10 pick if he declares himself eligible, and the NBA gives its approval.
“Hearing that I could be a top-10 draft pick is cool and exciting. Three years ago (after he was cut by Team Ontario) I wouldn’t think I’d be in this position right now,” Shaedon told the Star in a phone interview from the Kentucky campus on Monday.
“So just to hear me maybe being a top-10 draft pick is just crazy to think.”
According to ESPN, Shaedon’s athleticism, potent shot making and creating ability has NBA teams looking at him as a clear-cut lottery pick. With his frame and seven-foot wingspan, he has all the tools teams desire.
“I would describe my game a lot like Bradley Beal (and) Devin Booker,” Shaedon said. “Players that could get to their spots and create their own shot. I feel like I’m really good at attacking the rim and finishing above the rim but also expanding my game, shooting the three (while) also getting my teammates involved.”
Shaedon could enter the June 23 draft because he graduated from high school early and will turn 19 in May. His family, and Shaedon, dismisses the speculation.
“Our plan, and Shaedon’s plan, is to go back to school,” said his mother, Julia. “We’ve got our circle. That circle has always been a small circle, where we know and trust everyone in it. That’s kind of who we’re going to listen to when the time comes.”
Many wonder how a kid from London, Ont., a city known more for hockey and football, could make such a leap. It’s no mystery to the Sharpe family. They remember all the long drives and dedication that led to this point.
It would begin at the sound of the school bell, and the moment Robert and Julia arrived home from work around 4 p.m. Twice a week, the entire family drove from London to Toronto, about a five-hour round trip, so Shaedon could work with some of the best developmental coaches in the GTA.
Getting gym time in London was difficult, so the long rides to Toronto in their 2006 Pontiac Montana minivan for one or two-hour practices were worth it. Robert said he tries not to think about the fuel bills, but he’d do it all over again.
He added that Shaedon immediately thanked him for the ride every time they pulled in to the family driveway after another long trek. “Without him I don’t think I’d be here where I am now. I just give thanks to him and my parents,” Shaedon said.
Those moments of gratitude meant the world to a father who just wanted to see his son prove to the world how gifted he was.