Shaedon Sharpe (left) poses with teammates (UK Athletics Photo)
From the day Shaedon Sharpe confirmed he was reclassifying and joining the Kentucky basketball team for the second semester I had been convinced Sharpe would play this season.
I know the player’s mentor said that was not the plan. Coach John Calipari said that was not the plan. Both insisted Sharpe was going to practice, not worry about the NBA Draft and play at UK during the 2022-23 season.
Still I was sure he would play. He’s already projected as a potential top five pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, so there’s no question about his talent. However, after Saturday night’s Kentucky win at Kansas, I am not so sure I think he will play this season.
No, it’s nothing anyone told me. It’s just a gut feeling after listening to Calipari after the dominant win.
“I said after the game Bryce (Hopkins), Daimion (Collins) and Dontaie (Allen) did not get in. And I said, ‘One, you got to be happy for this team. To do what we did today, you got to be happy. Second thing, you guys that are happy, got to keep picking them up so that they’re ready for their opportunity,’” Calipari said.
Note: No mention of Sharpe.
“The whole thing in all this, you want every one of these kids to play their best,” Calipari said. “The problem is we had three that didn’t play and we still got to make sure that we’re coaching them and building them and giving them an opportunity.
“But if they get an opportunity, it’s less minutes for somebody else. That guy’s got to accept that that might happen.”
The three players who did not play that Calipari referred to were Allen, a sophomore, along Hopkins and Collins, both freshmen.
Later Calipari was asked about the value of having a veteran team this year that does not rely on freshmen like most of his teams at UK have done.
“They’re on time, they have an idea of what I’m talking about because they’ve done it before,” Calipari said about UK’s veteran players. “You can lean on them. Sahvir (Wheeler), Kellan (Grady), even Davion (Mintz), Oscar, (Thsiebwe), Keion (Brooks).
“I mean, we got veteran guys. And they’re playing well enough that — that’s part of the thing with Bryce and Daimion. I mean, those guys in front of you are playing so well, you almost got to accept it. And then when you get your chance, you got to bust out, which is hard. It’s a hard deal.”
Again, no mention of Sharpe.
Kentucky is also playing so well that disrupting the team’s chemistry in February might not be the smartest thing no matter how talented Sharpe might be, especially if he’s more than content to just practice and watch games waiting for next year — or the NBA Draft.
Now am I convinced Sharpe will be at UK next year even if Calipari doesn’t play him? No, I am not because money talks.
However, that dominant win at Kansas and Calipari’s thoughts after the game make me think that maybe even as good as Sharpe is, he really is not going to play for UK this year.