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When Kentucky extended a scholarship offer to Canadian shooting guard Shaedon Sharpe a week before Christmas 2020, the high school junior wasn’t even ranked by most of the major recruiting services.
In the nine months that followed, he committed to UK and earned the respect of national analysts, who ultimately made him the No. 1 overall player in his 2022 class, a ranking bestowed upon him by 247Sports, Rivals.com and ESPN going into his senior year of high school.
Hometown: London, Ont.
Dream City Christian (Ariz.)
6-foot-5, 185 pounds
247Sports: No. 1 overall
Rivals.com: No. 1 overall
ESPN.com: No. 1 overall
Sharpe ascended from virtual unknown on the national recruiting scene to the country’s No. 1 prospect by coupling his elite athleticism with an advanced skill set that developed through sheer hard work. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in early 2020, he got in the gym and worked on his game, spending March through August honing his basketball skills and becoming a more-rounded perimeter player.
By the time he debuted for his new high school, Dream City Christian (Ariz.), as a junior, Sharpe was starting to put it all together. He excelled during the high school season and cemented himself as one of the nation’s best prospects in the spring and summer, punctuating the grassroots schedule by showcasing his skills as one of the top performers on the Nike circuit, where he had the opportunity to play in front of major college coaches for the first time.
Sharpe will come to Kentucky as a player who can score from all three levels and operate with the ball in his hands, a versatility that should fit well on a roster that is expected to feature several elite perimeter players.
He chose Kentucky over a final list that also included Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma State and a lucrative offer from the G League, but the Wildcats emerged as the clear team to beat at a relatively early stage in his recruitment, thanks in large part to the relationship that John Calipari already had with his Nike team director, Dwayne Washington, who also coached former UK guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
“I already know Calipari. And I already know what they do,” Washington told the Herald-Leader a few months before Sharpe’s commitment. “They don’t really have to call me and tell me about the program. ... It’s a unique situation, because they don’t really need to recruit me. They’re already on the list of programs and situations that I think could be really mutually beneficial for a kid with potential like Shaedon.”
If Sharpe holds his current position, he will be the first consensus No. 1-ranked recruit to pick Kentucky since Nerlens Noel did so in 2012. Wherever he ends up in the final rankings, Sharpe will be viewed as one of UK’s biggest recruits in years.
“He’s a really tough cover for the opposition. I’ve talked to some coaches that have gone against him, and they’re like, ‘Man, we have no idea what to do with this kid.’ There are a few of these programs that have said he’s arguably the toughest person that they’ve had to game-plan for, just because he’s so dynamic — he’s just smooth with the basketball. He’s smooth with his movements. He knows how to beat guys off the bounce, get them on his hip and just go get some buckets. Outstanding talent. Outstanding player.” — 247Sports analyst Travis Branham
Sharpe will be eligible to officially sign with the Kentucky Wildcats during the one-week early signing period, which begins Nov. 10. He will play out his final high school season for Dream City Christian (Ariz.), which competes against a national schedule.