Last week when Shaedon Sharpe told Sports Illustrated that he would skip his senior season and enroll at Kentucky in January, not only did it leave a void in the Wildcats’ stellar class it also left a void at the top of the 2022 class as a whole.
Sharpe plans to redshirt for Kentucky for the second semester, but left the possibility open of him playing this season, saying, “I’ll do whatever the team needs.”
The 6’5” shooting guard was widely regarded as the No. 1 senior in the country after he followed up a dominant junior season with an even more dominant showing this summer.
Sharpe pumped in 25.4 points, while shooting 45% from the three-point line, and 6.4 rebounds a game at Dream City Christian (Glendale, Ariz.) then posted 21.6 points a game, including 28 points and eight rebounds in his last three games, at the Nike Peach Jam with UPlay Canada.
The Nike Peach Jam event is widely regarded as the most grueling grassroots summer event in the world.
Sports Illustrated will unveil its SI99 basketball rankings for 2022 in early December, and Sharpe was on a shortlist of prospects vying for the No. 1 spot.
When asked who he thought should replace him at the top, Sharpe matter-of-factly said, “Dereck Lively.”
Lively, a 7-foot center at Westtown School (West Chester, Penn.), committed to Duke in September after a dominant summer with Team Final (Penn.).
A matchup nightmare because of his versatility on both ends, Lively, a human shot eraser/changer, led the Nike Peach Jam in blocks, swatting away five a game.
Offensively, he’s wildly versatile with the ability to step out and efficiently knocking down perimeter shots while managing his customary paint dominance.
Lively averaged 8.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game for Team Final despite sharing the frontcourt with Jalen Duren, a 6’10” forward who was widely regarded as the top player in the 2022 class before reclassifying to 2021 and enrolling at Memphis.
“Dereck just does everything on both ends,” Sharpe said. “He’s contesting every shot, he rebounds, he can space the floor because he can shoot the three. He’s just really versatile and hard to stop because of that. I could definitely see him as the No. 1 player.”