Five-star prospect Shaedon Sharpe, the No. 4 player in the 2022 class, made an official visit to Kentucky in June. He then returned to Lexington, Kentucky, again at the end of August with his parents by his side. Can anyone bridge the gap and edge out the Wildcats ahead of his commitment this week?
That’s the big question surrounding his recruitment as Sharpe, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Glendale (Arizona)-Dream City Christian, prepares to announce his decision Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET. The Wildcats are the favorite to land Sharpe, according to the 247Sports Crystal Ball but he maintains that he’s still considering four other options: Oklahoma State, Arizona, Kansas, and the G League Ignite.
My prediction is below along with a look — ranked from best to worst fit — at his final options.
John Calipari and his staff have already locked in a commitment in the 2022 cycle from a superstar point guard in Skyy Clark. Adding a versatile shooting guard in Sharpe to round out a truly dynamic backcourt duo could really unlock the Wildcats’ potential. Sharpe has maintained confidence in UK’s staff being able to get him to the next level — like it has done with countless others in the past — and that trust is ultimately what may make Kentucky the best fit here.
2. G League Ignite
It’s hard to argue what the G League Ignite program in one year has put together. Having already produced two top-10 picks in Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, it’s obvious that it is a viable path for top-end prospects who may want to punt on college altogether and instead prepare for becoming a professional. The program is tailor-made to get players to the next level — it has invested heavy resources in accomplishing precisely that — so while it doesn’t appear Sharpe is leaning this direction, it’s not crazy to think of him skipping college and picking the G League Ignite on Tuesday as a reasonable path forward.
Unless you’re a special prospect it’s really hard to earn big minutes as a freshman under Bill Self at Kansas.
And Sharpe is a special prospect.
He’s a natural scorer who can fill it up at every level and at Kansas, a team with a ton of veterans that may be primed to turn over the majority of its scoring for 2022-23, he could be able to step in and start right away.
4. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton has made a strong impression on recruits since taking over the program in 2017 because of his player-friendly approach and ability to connect with prospects. That has allowed him to land five-star recruit-turned-No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, who they featured heavily last season, and most recently five-star Kansas transfer Bryce Thompson. Sharpe would figure to benefit substantially on that front. He’d likely be the face of the program upon arrival on a talented young team on the rise.
Arizona for years proudly wore the moniker of “A Player’s Program” under Sean Miller. But Miller is out now and the program is entering a new era under Tommy Lloyd, the star Gonzaga assistant who took the gig earlier this year. Truth is, Arizona’s just the biggest wild card here so they land at last on the list. Given Lloyd’s recruiting acumen and track record he might just turn Arizona into a juggernaut again. Most expect he’ll be very successful. We just don’t know exactly what that may look like, at what level he’ll recruit and how he’ll feature his players — even those as talented as Sharpe — on that path. (Though he’s no dummy; Sharpe likely steps in and shines right away if he chooses the Wildcats.)
Too many indicators here are pointing to Kentucky to make any other prediction. UK was the only school that got two separate visits from him in recent months and those in the industry see this one as a virtual lock for John Calipari and his staff. It’s a credit to Kentucky that it’s headed this direction, too. The Wildcats jumped on him early with an offer last December when he was just barely a top-100 talent and now thanks to some pristine scouting and projecting may be in line to land one of the top players in the 2022 class to build around for the next cycle.