May 18, 2022

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Shaddon Sharp's Circus leaves Kentucky with little to show for it but anger and confusion

Shaddon Sharp’s Circus leaves Kentucky with little to show for it but anger and confusion

Let’s start here: While there’s a debate going on about who they should actually be angry with, it’s a mistake to suggest (as some have) that Kentucky fans are unwarranted in their anger. cheddon sharp He leaves without playing a minute for the Wildcats. Of course they should be upset now as we know – via multiple sources confirming this the athlete — that Sharpe plans to enter and stay in the 2022 NBA Draft. It’s hard not to feel like John Calipari’s been turned on. Should people be mad at this shy, quiet 18-year-old in the middle of this circus? Mostly not. parenthood? no. Or at least people shouldn’t be bad for them online, because (as well as generally being good advice in civilized society) as a predictable lottery pick, he has good reasons to be a pro now. It wasn’t the decision, but rather the handling of this whole situation, that was completely insane for Kentucky and those who love it.

Here’s why: For months after announcing his plans to sign up early for Kentucky, Sharp, his family and advisor Dwayne Washington told UK staff and the public that he plans to train but not play with the Wildcats for the second semester of last season – but then go back to school and play for the team next season. We can now say with confidence that this was a charade. And why? Was it all just to validate the NBA that he met the league’s requirements for 2022 eligibility? Because for the past several months, as he’s been offering so many reassurances about a comeback, Washington has told several people on the NBA side that Sharp had definitively planned to be in the 2022 draft. Thursday after the athlete As reported, Sharp finally released a statement saying he is entering enlistment but is leaving the door open to go back to school. Nobody in the NBA thinks that will happen.

Washington declined, via text message, four times to answer a direct question Thursday: Do you disagree that you’re telling people in the NBA that Sharpe plans to stay in the draft? swerve. “From now on, I will only respond to the actual names of the people,” Washington wrote. “Because the term ‘NBA people’ is broad. I wouldn’t listen to anyone if I were you. Just go by Sheldon’s statement. Those are the facts.” He added that Sharp “has no agent!!!!” He concluded, “If he had wanted to leave, he would have been gone a long time ago.” Washington wrote that if Sharpe was planning to break up, why wouldn’t he have an agent, why would he keep taking lessons and why would he stay on the Kentucky campus?

Some answers: Because Washington hasn’t yet got a proxy certificate, because the spring semester isn’t over yet, and Sharpe is actually not on campus anymore; He finished the semester online.

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A team scout for this year’s lottery believes there was never a plan for Sharpe to actually play in Kentucky. The Scout says he has spoken to Washington since the fall and Washington confirmed that Sharp would be in the 2022 draft.

Here now, a timeline of comments to the contrary.

Washington said on November 9, the day the news broke, that Sharp would enroll early in Kentucky. the athleteHe is not going to enlist. He will play (in the UK) in the 2022-23 season. He added that Sharp “could play if the team wanted him to.” More on that last part for a moment.

Sharpe’s mother, Julia Bell, said on January 6, the day she dropped her son off in Lexington. the athlete: “Talking with Cal has been consistent the whole time: He doesn’t want to throw Shaydon to the wolves. Whether he’s actually going to go out and play a game this season is as good a guess as mine. Cal’s point is basically let’s put it in practice and drop the conditioning and go from there. Honestly, for that The reason we chose Kentucky, is because we have complete confidence and belief that Cal will do what is best for Sheddon and what is best for the team.”

On January 7, Calipari told reporters, “I spoke to (the team) and I said, ‘We don’t have a plan to play this year.’ He might, but that’s not the plan and he never was. If you ask me now, I think he won’t play. But you don’t know what.” Happens. I mean, we got hit after injury, it happens, it happens. If it goes down to six or seven guys, I might say to him, ‘Look, man, you have to go after six, seven minutes into the game.'” Some should play. “

On January 20, after reports began emerging that Sharpe would be eligible for the 2022 draft, his mother sent a text message the athlete: “Nothing has changed since we last spoke.” When asked to clarify whether this means he still plans to be in the UK next season, Bale wrote, “Yes! That’s the expectation”.

Calipari echoed that sentiment, saying: “He doesn’t change a thing. He plans to be here next year. He’s watching. Whether or not I play him this year (depends). If he’s ready to be able to play in matches, I’ll bring him in.” Yeah, then, about that last thing. Is it possible that?

On January 24, Calipari said this about Sharp on his radio show: “I think our team would like to put him in it. Something happens in practice – he does something – and they all kind of look at me, come on, now. That’s it? Put it on.” But you have to make sure you take care of him.”

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It is important to note that at this point, Sharpe and his camp still insist that they will return to Lexington after a semester of acclimatising to college. Washington thought it best to keep him on the bench in the meantime.

Washington said the last week of January the athlete: “He’s in no hurry to be somewhere he will be for the next 15 years. It’s like you’re telling your kids: You’re going to be a kid for a little while and then you’re going to be an adult forever. So what’s the rush, isn’t it? All,” It’s a top-five pick, a top-ten pick so it’s gone?” You want to go through fire. And you know what that says to the NBA people? That you want to train. That you want to be around other good players. That you do things the right way. That’s why people get recruited when they go to Kentucky, because you choose a place that says , I’m serious about my profession. When people ask why it’s there, I say, “Why did you take SAT prep? You have to make sure you can actually pass the test.”

Washington knew the fans were demanding that Sharpe play and added, “If he plays, he’ll do well. If he does well, he’ll probably leave. Why do you want him to play and leave when you don’t really need him now? Just because the fans want something shiny?”

By February 7, Calipari finally stopped all speculation and announced that Sharp would not play this season. “He is committed to improving himself and our team in practice this year and better preparing to lead us next season,” he said.

This is where Kentucky fans mourn Calipari for so many other reasons, namely the 9-16 season in 2021 and followed by a first-round loss to the 15th seed in 2022, their anger turned to the coach. . Why didn’t you play it?! How did you not know you were playing?! Regarding the latter, Calipari took Washington at his word because he trusted him, having dealt with top Canadian recruiting former Kentucky star Shay Gilgus Alexander. As for why Calipari didn’t just play him, multiple sources confirmed Sharpe and his family were ready to play last season, and when injuries piled up in Kentucky State’s backcourt, Calipari would gladly do so. But sources say that Washington intervened and shut it down.

This is what Calipari said on the night the season ended, when asked if he reconsidered the decision not to play Sharp: “At some point, we sat down and talked about it. But you know, I think the best thing for him was the way we did it. Was he going to be a good player this year? Yes, he was good. He was very good. But he joined us in the middle of the season. Trying to get him to (speed up) all the things we were doing was hard, and then it came late where maybe we could, should. to put it there. We just, you know, chose together: let’s just wait.”

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This will be the theme of Sheddon Sharp’s four months in Kentucky: just wait. Wild cats are still waiting. Sharpe has not officially announced anything, and sources believe Washington hoped to improve the exit, leaving Lexington as calm and painless as possible. Which of course is a huge miscalculation about Kentucky’s fan base.

It’s hard to say here what Calipari could have done differently. Don’t you take the first recruit’s commitment in September, when it looked like he’s coming this summer with the rest of the UK’s 2022 class? Want to cancel this show in November when Sharpe asked to come early and sit down? Force him to play when the person with the most influence on Sharpe – who he was still promising next season – asks to sit down? It was a great storm, and Calipari was caught without a parachute. His options were very limited. Worse, by not revealing his true plans too soon, Sharp has slowed Kentucky’s recruiting efforts to replace him. What high-end wing subscribes to that list without a definitive answer about whether the lottery pick will go back to school?

What a mess.

When Sharp announced Thursday that he would be testing the waters, Calipari released his benchmark statement saying the player would “have my full support” in exploring the draft. “Shaedon has been a great teammate and has approached everything that comes with being a college student athlete the way it should.” There is no ill will between the coach and the player.

On March 21, during his final radio show of the season, Calipari described Sharp as a “real star” and a very likable person. Many people agree with both descriptions. By then, though, Calipari’s tone about what came next had changed. Certainty is gone. “I hope to get a chance to coach him in real matches,” he said. Unless Calipari goes to the NBA, as is expected every season, it won’t.

The circus is leaving town, and yes, there is justified outrage. Because it didn’t need to be a circus at all.

(Photo: Dylan Boyle/Getty Images)