The Portland Trail Blazers selected Shaedon Sharpe with the seventh pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday, taking a chance on a player who never fit into college.
Sharpe, a 6’6″ winger from London, Ont., who attended Beal High School, was a five-star recruit who signed up for Kentucky but never played for the Wildcats. He intended to wear a red shirt for his first season, but instead decided to declare himself a draft.
“Going from high school to college and not playing your college season and then straight to the NBA,” Sharpe said. “It’s quite a journey, but every step of the way I fought hard and had fun.”
The Blazers also had the 46th and 57th picks.
After a season marked by a string of injuries, a new coach, a front office shakeup and a roster overhaul, the Blazers are rebuilding around All-Star Damian Lillard.
“He’s a great guard himself and he’s been in this league for a while now, so I’m looking forward to really learning from him,” Sharpe said.
Portland was active before the draft, acquiring Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no team has announced the deal.
Lillard, who was injured for much of last season, played with Grant on the gold medal-winning American team at the Tokyo Olympics last year. Grant averaged 19.2 points in 47 games last season with the Pistons.
The Blazers finished 27-55 last season, their worst record since 2005-06.
Clearly eyeing a draft position at the end of the season, Portland lost 11 games by more than 30 points after the All-Star break.
Sharpe wasn’t the only Canadian in the top ten – Montreal’s Benedict Mathurin was selected by the Indiana Pacers in sixth overall.
With files from Associated Press