With big names like Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, and Detroit hero Chris Douglas-Roberts on the board, most Detroit Pistons fans were giddy when the 29th pick rolled around. The Pistons grabbed Indiana’s D.J. White with the 29th pick and most fans thought it was a solid choice.
But then the Detroit Pistons turned around and shipped the 29th pick (White) to the Seattle Supersonics for picks 32 and 46. The Pistons still had a shot at some big-name players, though.
Detroit’s choice at the 32nd pick would have Pistons fans everywhere scratching their heads. The pick was Walter Sharpe from UAB. Sharpe only played six games at Mississippi State and then 12 games at UAB before being ruled academically ineligible. What did Joe Dumars see in him, anyway?
To make matters worse, Walter Sharpe struggled with narcolepsy while at UAB. Talk about a real NBA Draft “sleeper,” right?
So, who is Walter Sharpe? Why did the Pistons take the 6’9, 245-lb. forward from UAB when they could have had one of several Kansas stars or the hometown kid Douglas-Roberts?
It appears as if the Pistons and Joe Dumars are intrigued by his potential. Walter Sharpe struggled with narcolepsy and that caused him to struggle in class at UAB but now he is on medication and has improved his habits because of it. Walter Sharpe is a versatile forward who can handle the basketball, and he put up some nice numbers in only 24.9 minutes per game out of the 12 games he played his final year at UAB.
UAB coach Mike Davis called Walter Shape one of the most misunderstood kids in the country as well. The Pistons most likely talked to Davis about both Walter Sharpe and D.J. White, so Pistons fans should assume that Davis had high praise for Sharpe because Davis has always had high praise for D.J. White.
A short highlight tape from the UAB vs. Kentucky game demonstrates that Walter Sharpe has the profile of a solidly-built NBA small forward and an intriguing all-around game. Walter Sharpe’s rebounding in particular will really help the Detroit Pistons out a great deal. Walter Sharpe hasn’t played a ton of college ball, however, so the Pistons will need to work him in slowly.
Expect to see an Amir Johnson style of plan with Walter Sharpe, as the Pistons will stick him with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBDL so he can learn the ropes and then probably come up and get some minutes in a year or two. Walter Sharpe might not contribute early but it’s a good idea for top teams in the NBA to stockpile young players that can blossom into contributors at a later time. Right now, the Pistons are short on roster spots.
Walter Sharpe fits the Amir Johnson profile, and the Pistons also don’t have to pay guaranteed money to him like they would have to D.J. White in the first round. All in all, you have to trust that Joe Dumars did his homework on Walter Sharpe and that the Pistons are still in good hands.