John Calipari says Shaedon Sharpe “a ways away” from playing games for Kentucky


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari talks to reporters after the UK vs. Southern basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 76-64. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Highly touted recruit Shaedon Sharpe has arrived on campus in Lexington.  

The 18-year-old, London, Canada native began to practice with Kentucky this week, citing the possibility that the reclassified No. 1 prospect could see some minutes on the floor in the 2021-22 season.  

However, UK head coach John Calipari wants Big Blue Nation to pump the brakes on expecting to see Sharpe play for the Wildcats as of now.  

“[Sharpe] is a ways away from playing games,” Calipari said. “It may be a year from now…we don’t have a plan for him to play this year. Maybe he does [play] but that is not the plan and it never has been.” 

Originally expected to graduate in the class of 2022, Sharpe decided to reclassify so he could graduate a semester early and enroll at UK. 

Despite the hype surrounding the six-foot-five, 195-pound guard, Calipari was quick to note that Sharpe is not yet ready to take the floor.  

“You got to get in unbelievable shape, [Sharpe] isn’t even close to that,” Calipari said. “You have to play with more intensity, more fight, you have to fly. You can’t run at your speed, run faster than you think you can run.” 

Some thought that the arrival of Sharpe came at the right time, as Kentucky’s star point guard Sahvir Wheeler left UK’s game on Tuesday against LSU after running into a screen.  

Wheeler has since been listed as “day-to-day” with a neck injury, with no expected return date set.  

If Wheeler is out for any extended period of time, Kentucky will rely on TyTy Washington and Davion Mintz to split the role of point guard. While Calipari trusts both players, he didn’t rule out that if desperately needed, Sharpe could see the floor if the backcourt options are thin.  

“If you asked me right now, my guess is he won’t play, but you don’t know what happens,” Calipari said. “We’ve had injury after injury, this happened, that happened, we’re down to six or seven guys, I may tell him ‘Look man, you got to go in seven minutes a game,’ but my hope is we’re never there.” 

Rather than focusing on getting Sharpe minutes, Calipari would rather get the freshman settled into his new surroundings.  

“I want to get him acclimated; I want him to get to know his teammates,” Calipari said.  

Junior forward Keion Brooks, who is Sharpe’s roommate, made it clear that the Cats will make his transition to Lexington as smooth as possible.  

“As soon as [Sharpe] got here, he’s a part of us now,” Brooks said. “We’ve just got to give him the chance to be himself and don’t throw the weight of the world on his shoulders. Let him come in and find his way.” 

Whether Sharpe finds his way onto the court for Kentucky this season or next, there is no doubt that when his time comes, Calipari will make sure the 18-year-old is ready to answer the bell.  

“It takes time to create a new habit, it’s hard,” Calipari said. “I’m not going to put him in a situation where he is not ready to go in.”