‘Mystery man’ Shaedon Sharpe is an intriguing option for Pistons at No. 5

Detroit News

Projected NBA lottery pick Shaedon Sharpe is a self-admitted man of mystery.

After going from unranked to the No. 1 recruit for the 2022 high school class in a matter of months, Sharpe then reclassified and entered Kentucky this season before ultimately deciding to not play.

Against all odds, it’s possible that he goes as high as No. 4 to the Sacramento Kings at next Thursday’s NBA Draft at Barclays Center in New York.

“I feel like there is mystery, just because I haven’t played for about a year now,” Sharpe told reporters Friday. “My last game was high school, so I feel like there is curiosity and mystery with me.”

The Detroit Pistons appear to have gotten a future star in last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Cade Cunningham. With general manager Troy Weaver landing three All-Rookie Team selections in his first two drafts, another solid haul next week, starting with the No. 5 pick, could push the rocket boosters on Detroit’s rebuild.

Could Sharpe, who’s listed as a 6-foot-6 guard, be that guy? The one area about his game that’s not a mystery — and perhaps the manner in which he could best add to a young Pistons team — is his athleticism. Sharpe is rumored to have a 49-inch vertical and is as explosive near the basket as they come, with plenty of other offensive tools to boot.

He confirmed that he has worked out for the Pistons, and if everything that he claimed he can bring to an NBA team turns out to be true, well, he’s certainly worth strong consideration.

“I think I’m a high-level scorer that can really score the ball, plus I could get my teammates involved, find them when they’re open,” Sharpe said. “As well as, on the defensive side, just locking up, switching, playing one through five.

“I see myself being one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball, just playing at the highest level, really getting after it, competing. One of my goals coming in as a rookie is just to be Rookie of the Year. … And then also All-Star, and then later on, Hall of Fame.”

Now that’s what the French call, la confiance.

Sharpe’s confidence shouldn’t be surprising, given what he’s accomplished in his young career. He said that it was his decision not to play last year, and while sitting out for a whole season without the chance to compete was “hard,” it’s all seemingly worked for him in the end.

“My thought process as an athlete, as a basketball player, was really just, get embedded. I was just in the gym every day, working out,” said Sharpe, a London, Ontario native who turned 19 in May.

“I really don’t regret (not) playing, because I’m working out with NBA teams now, so I guess I did something right.”

But drafting a player in the top 10, or even top 5, who hasn’t played at a level above high school or competed in a real game of basketball in over a year? That takes confidence from both the player and the front office.

And with no college tape of Sharpe, it feels noteworthy that Weaver said in his post-lottery press conference that he would feel confident picking that night, before private workouts began.

What Weaver also said that night, all the way back in March, is that he’ll “pick the guy who fits best for the organization moving forward.”

There are two ways to look at that, outside of plain talent: Playing style and mentality. When asked about what aspect of his game playing with Cunningham could accentuate, Sharpe spoke about demeanor.

“Just the compete level. I have a lot of competitiveness playing with guys, so really just competing, having fun, going after it,” Sharpe said.

The Pistons have done well for themselves in selecting a young core, but Sharpe — if he can reach his ceiling — would bring something entirely unique to the table.

The big question is: Are the Pistons confident that they can see the full picture?

NBA Draft

When: 8 p.m, June 23, Barclays Center, New York

TV: ESPN

Outlook: The Pistons have the No. 5 overall pick and No. 46 in the second round. They’ll look to add to their improving young nucleus that includes last year’s top pick, Cade Cunningham, along with 2020 first-round picks Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes.

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