Jamarion Sharp’s father is 1.80 meters and his mother is 1.80 meters.
The way he looks at it: “I had no choice but to be 1.70”, he says with a laugh.
The Western Kentucky center easily grabs everyone’s attention with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, 237 pounds with a 7-foot-7 wingspan and a size 18 shoe, but the son of Mario Sharp and Shiby Watkins has an even bigger personality and heart for people.
“God blessed me for putting Jamarion in my life and that of my family,” said Tim Haworth, former Hopkinsville coach and current Jamarion male coach. “Outside of basketball he hangs out with my kids, my wife and I am so proud of what he has accomplished. I couldn’t ask for a better boy on and off the field.”
The Hopkinsville native was an all-district and Kentucky All-Star for Haworth. He played in the KHSAA Sweet 16 state tournament his sophomore year.
It was in high school where his body really started to grow. By the time he entered high school, he was already six feet, but by the end of his four-year school years, he would eventually jump over six feet.
WKU coach Rick Stansbury recruited another kid one night and the other team played Hopkinsville. Then Sharp first caught the attention of the coach.
“I saw him warm up in a warm-up line and it was intriguing,” said Stansbury. “He didn’t play the first half. I went to Haworth’s coach and asked, ‘What about the big boy?’ The coach said he was going to be really good, I said, ‘Coach, why isn’t he playing?’”
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Haworth decided to show Stansbury what Sharp is capable of and it was enough to impress the Hilltopper coach.
“I worked him out in my suit and tie for three or four minutes during halftime and Stansbury said, ‘I’m going to offer him (a scholarship) after the game,'” recalls Haworth. “A lot of my coaching buddies laughed because they wondered if he was that good and I said, ‘No, but he’ll be that good.'”
Considering Western Kentucky a dream school, Sharp told Stansbury he would go to Bowling Green to play afterward, but fell short of high school education requirements and played two seasons at the junior college level at John A. Logan College in Illinois.
He starred alongside former Trinity star and one-time Louisville signer Jay Scrubb. His last season there, he was considered a four-star prospect and the best junior college player in the country by 247Sports.
Sharp said he had offers from Oregon, Baylor, Louisville, West Virginia, South Carolina, San Diego State and others, among others, but stuck with Stansbury’s program.
“This is where my heart has been from the start,” Sharp said. “It means a lot to me. The people who didn’t see me play (play) in my old school will now see me play here.”
According to the John A. Logan website, his height was listed at 7-foot-3, but when he arrived at WKU’s campus, he was measured two inches taller at 7-foot-5.
He is the tallest player in the history of the program, even taller than the late great Chris Marcus who stood at 7-foot-1. Also the tallest player in Division I basketball at the time.
Sharp hopes to add more than just a big presence to the Hilltopper basketball team next season, and he impressed his coaches early on.
“He was a more pleasant surprise than we hoped for,” Stansbury said. “I really like what he was in high school and elementary school, but I like what he can be. He came in to do other things better than what I expected.
“He has a high ceiling.”
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As Sharp continues to adjust to the Division I level of the game by adding strength and weight — now just three pounds away from his 240-pound goal — by eating 5,000 calories a day, he’s also getting used to the pace.
“Going up and down the field,” he said, was the biggest adjustment in the beginning. “This court is bigger than a junior college court. It takes a little more to get to the ground and I’m really working on getting better at that.”
He has three years to play for the Hilltoppers and his current and former coaches believe his potential as a basketball player exceeds his status.
Haworth feels: “He’s going to be a pro and I said it then.”
Reach Dominique Yates. Twitter: @RealDYates. Email: [email protected]