Kentucky coach John Calipari says that Shaedon Sharpe has not made a final decision on his playing future and that he is continuing to discuss with the wing player’s family whether Sharpe will stay in the NBA draft or play for the Wildcats next season.
“All I can tell you is he may do this, but it is not done,” Calipari said Friday on SportsTalk with Dan Issel, a Kentucky basketball legend, and Mike Pratt on ESPN 680 in Louisville.
Calipari added: “Nothing has changed in the last two months about how we’re going about this. I’m talking to his mother and father, and we’re talking once a week. I’m not overbearing with the stuff, but they will play a part in this.”
Sharpe announced on social media Thursday that he was entering the NBA draft but maintaining his college eligibility. But sources told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello that Sharpe, the No. 6 NBA prospect by ESPN’s rankings, would stay in the draft.
Sharpe, who arrived at Kentucky as a five-star recruit and enrolled for the spring semester, did not play for the Wildcats in 2021-22.
The 6-foot-6 Canadian wing — who was a No. 1 recruit in his class — graduated from high school in May, sources told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, which would allow him to be eligible to enter this summer’s NBA draft.
“My path to this point wasn’t a straight road of successes but my passion for this game and my dream to play at the highest level has allowed me to overcome challenges and disappointments and has shaped me into who I am today,” Sharpe wrote in his Instagram post.
But Calipari said that Sharpe, who has enrolled for summer and fall classes at Kentucky, has moved his belongings into the basement of the team’s dormitory, which is what players usually do when they are planning to return.
“What changed is he was coming back,” Calipari said Friday. “That was the plan. But all of a sudden some circumstances changed and maybe he can be picked in those early, early picks. Maybe he can’t.”
Sharpe’s return would enhance the prospects of a team that will be led by Oscar Tshiebwe, the Wooden Award winner who announced this week that he would return to school. Although NIL money is widely believed to be a factor in Tshiebwe’s decision, he can also become the second player to win the Wooden Award twice. (Ralph Sampson won it in 1982 and 1983.)
Kentucky lost to Saint Peter’s in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament, one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history. Saint Peter’s made it all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to North Carolina.
Despite the backlash he has faced since suffering that loss, Calipari said he has already put that game behind him.
“I’ve moved on from that game,” Calipari said. “Did I grieve? What? Did I take it hard? What? I’ve never had a team do that in my career. We’ve never been in that where we lost to a double[-digit] seed, but I’m done with it. It’s next. How do we win next year? Winning championships. That’s the only thing we put on this wall in here.”