Former UNC standout Day’Ron Sharpe selected in NBA draft by championship contender

·3 min read

The Brooklyn Nets are getting North Carolina forward Day’Ron Sharpe with the No. 29 pick of Thursday’s NBA draft.

The Suns made the pick, but according to The Athletic, the Nets get Sharpe via a trade.

Sharpe, a 6-foot-11 forward/center, celebrated with about 175 family members, friends, former teammates and coaches at the Greenville (N.C.) Convention Center. That included coach Roy Williams, who remarked to the crowd that he was attending his first NBA draft party as a retired coach. Sharpe became the seventh and final one-and-done player for Williams at UNC.

Sharpe worked out for eight teams including the Charlotte Hornets and initially wowed pro scouts with his high-motor and ability to rebound. He led Carolina in rebounding by averaging 7.6 per game, despite playing just 19.1 minutes per game. He also led the nation in offensive rebounding percentage of 18.3, according to Ken Pomeroy. His 7.0 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes registered as the most ever by a UNC player.

But that alone is not what got him drafted. After making his intentions to enter the draft known right after the season — and before Williams announced his retirement — Sharpe went to California to begin training. He worked with former UCLA standout Don MacLean, a 6-foot-10 forward who is the all-time leading scorer in Bruins and Pac-12 history.

MacLean also worked with Duke’s Luke Kennard and Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell prior to them being taken in the 2017 draft. With Sharpe, MacLean locked in on his shooting and shedding pounds.

“All the teams I worked out for, every time, would tell me, ‘I didn’t know you could shoot that well,” Sharpe told the News & Observer on Monday. “It’s not a surprise to me, I always knew I could shoot. I just never really got to showcase it in college. So I knew once I got in front of teams, I was going to be good.”

Sharpe is down to 258 pounds, which is about 20 pounds less than where he ended the season weighing. MacLean also had him on a strict diet that included salads every day and featuring more foods he didn’t eat much of before like turkey bacon and salmon. He also cut out foods that weren’t helping his cause.

“Ribs, oh I miss ribs,” Sharpe said. “Baby back ribs? I miss them.”

Sharpe made his debut last season with 13 points and 10 rebounds in a win over College of Charleston, which joined him with James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Pete Chilcutt, Sean May, Ed Davis and Cole Anthony as UNC freshmen to record a double-double in their first game. His breakout performance came when he dropped 25 points on Notre Dame in the Smith Center in one of just four starts on the season.

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