London ball

Shaedon Sharpe’s parents are causing a stir in London and dreaming big ahead of the NBA draft

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Six years ago, Shaedon Sharpe didn’t dream of making history in the 2022 NBA draft.

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He just wanted to help the Stoney Creek Elementary School basketball team win a city championship. This meant briefing his future teammates on the hoop installation – sometimes in the driveway, sometimes in the street – outside his north London home.

Rob Sharpe and Julia Bell poked fun at the memory of their Manhattan hotel ahead of their son’s big moment at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday at 8 p.m.

“This kid wanted to run his own clinic to prepare,” Rob recalled. “So he asked the children to do exercises outside the house during the summer to prepare them for the 8th grade season. We saw them in the beginning around 7th grade and they had no basketball experience at the time, but Shaedon had them do some (practices) and the team ended up winning.

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“They played so well and it was amazing to watch.”

A contingent of about a dozen family members and friends from across southwestern Ontario are in the Big Apple this week to find out where the six-foot-six goaltender will land in the draft. Most analysts have the 19-year-old, who left an NCAA scholarship in Kentucky to declare himself for this draft, among the top 10 picks.

“It’s a different world here,” Rob joked. “Every time you come here, it’s really an eye opener. There are hundreds of people on the streets and people filming and you’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ I thought I would be nervous, but I’m so excited and happy for him.

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“Maybe on draft night it will be a little different story, but for now we are so blessed and grateful for this opportunity.”

Shaedon first had a basketball in his hand when he was three years old. If it wasn’t that, it was a football or a soccer ball or a baseball. Over time, a mini-basketball net was installed in the house.

“There’s still evidence of it upstairs in the hallway,” Rob joked. “The net is there and the holes in the wall. Every time he comes back, you can hear him and his younger brother (Naishayne) playing one-on-one up there.

Rob Sharpe played baseball and loves the game. But it didn’t come fast enough for Shaedon, who loved the physical side of the sport and the touch.

“We had him first in power skating because I wanted to see which way he would go,” Rob said, “and funny enough his football coach Sean Campbell (of the Jr. Mustangs) saw him there. down and asked him if he wanted to try Football. So he went to the hockey arena – I think it was Nichols – and came out playing football.

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In the meantime, Shaedon continued to go to the YMCA and play basketball. When he was just starting out, his parents took him on a gold medal tryout in London, but they didn’t have enough players for a team in his age group.

“We revisited it later and he loved it,” Rob said. “He was watching basketball highlights, but he wasn’t sitting down like I would to watch a full game. He just wanted to get out there and play.

Although the family lived near AB Lucas High School, Rob wanted his children to go to HB Beal, where he went to high school. This is how Shaedon became a Raider and met his longtime mentor, Dave Sewell.

“Thanks to the guidance of (coach) Tony and Maria Marcotullio, they were our second pair of eyes at this school,” Rob said.

Shaedon excelled and started playing against better competition in the Toronto area. But he also suffered the sting of being cut from the Ontario U15 provincial team.

“I remember coming out of the gym and Shae said he cut himself and ‘I can’t believe it’ were his words,” Rob said. “I just told him that with every disappointment you always come back better and stronger. So put your head down, work and use that as fuel to prove that you really are a top player.

“He stuck to that, made Team Canada the year after and look where we are now.”

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The family was able to spend time together on Tuesday, but Shaedon’s training and media availability schedule was packed on Wednesday. Rob said he had no idea what would happen Thursday, but whatever happens, it will be a blessing.

And it will be a great moment for this city.

“We can’t say enough about the support we’ve had at home,” said Rob, a city worker. “At work, managers and supervisors knew his way (from an early age) and stood behind us so much, didn’t even think there would be the NBA in sight. So for them to see that too, they are so excited for him and our family.

“A lot of vacation time was burned (for basketball) and everyone was great.”

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