From competing on area barnstorming tours with ACC players to highlight dunks posted on YouTube, Angelo Sharpless might have already arrived in many people’s eyes.
But arriving at his first-ever NBA Draft combine, held at Brooklyn on Wednesday, there was little fanfare for Elizabeth City State’s all-everything college basketball star.
Even Sharpless’ school was only known as ‘Elizabeth’ to NBA scouts.
“I always had a chip on my shoulder in where I believe I belong on that stage,” Sharpless said. “I’m representing the guys that are Division II, the CIAA, the guys from Elizabeth City, and people that don’t get the exposure coming from small towns.”
The obscurity that follows the CIAA Player of the Year on such a high stage hasn’t slowed Sharpless on the road to a potential professional basketball career, one he hopes will include being selected in the June 27 NBA Draft, also being held by the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.
He competed Wednesday amongst 43 other draft prospects, ranging from Florida State’s Michael Snaer and Miami’s Durand Scott to Indiana’s Christian Watford and Missouri’s Phil Pressey.
Peyton Siva, from national champion Louisville, was in attendance and played in Thursday’s session.
Some of Sharpless’ plays against the well-known Division I players were textbook from a banner four-year career wowing crowds at the Vaughan Center: throwing down a reverse dunk, swishing a few 3-pointers and connecting on a 3/4-court buzzer beater,
“They were really impressed with my skill level and athleticism,” Sharpless said. “They were saying I could possibly be a second rounder if I keep doing what I’m doing and working out to get in the best shape I can.”
It’s part of a few draft combine invitations the 6-4, 205-pound guard has received in recent weeks.
The Plymouth native is set to workout for the Washington Wizards on June 3, then heads to Orlando on June 15 and Indiana June 22.
After Wednesday’s effort, NBA teams such as the Nets, Miami Heat and Houston Rockets also interviewed him.
And the questions were familiar ones.
“They just ask me again, ‘Where did you play at?’” said Sharpless, who was named the Division II Player of the Year by the website Boxtorow.com. “And I have to go through the story of playing at Elizabeth City State, and they say, ‘Where’s that?’ And then I’ll tell them it’s in northeastern North Carolina, and it’s the CIAA.
“They know about the CIAA, but they don’t know the schools in it.”
Sharpless believe he is improving his all-around game to show he is much more than a highlight reel of dunks, which was shown in his outside shooting range and defensive intensity on Wednesday.
“The scrimmage coaches were telling us to not do anything you haven’t done before, but I feel like I have a total package that just didn’t get expressed all the time,” Sharpless said. “I was in a system, and I did what my coach wanted me to do, so I showed off my athleticism, I showed the GMs and teams that I can play defense.
“My biggest thing was showing them how far I can go and no matter how tired I am, I can still play. It’s more of a mental thing for me now than skill-wise. I feel like I belong.”
Media present, such as Sports Illustrated writer and CBS Sports analyst Seth Davis, took note and commented on Twitter: “Angelo Sharpless is the revelation from group one if only cause I never heard of the guy. Just buried another 3. Spindly 6-4 athlete.”
Sharpless said he’s working on the spindly part, and much more to improve his appeal to all professional scouts.
“Even if it’s the NBA or overseas, there’s a lot of good connections here, and I’m enjoying it and I love showing the world my skill level because a lot of people don’t really look at Division II players, or we don’t get the TV time,” Sharpless said. “It’s a good experience, because I made a lot of friends and we all have the same dream. So I’m eating and sleeping basketball, and I’m thinking about it constantly. And I like it.
“I’m the first guy in Plymouth to really go this far, so why stop now?”