The Forgotten Freshman — Emanuel Sharp Isn’t Getting the Hype, But This Pure Scorer Could Be a Major UH Surprise
Jarace Walker and Terrance Arceneaux Are All the Buzz, But They're Not the Only Talented Members of a Top 3 Team's Talent InfusionBY Chris Baldwin // 09.20.22
Emanuel Sharp (No. 34) brings serious scoring skills to Kelvin Sampson's UH program.
Emanuel Sharp just may be the surprise of Kelvin Sampson's highest ranked University of Houston recruiting class. (Photo by UH Athletics)
Jarace Walker was one of the more dynamic high school players in the country. Now, he's bringing his skills to the University of Houston.
Marcus Sasser relishes big game moments. But Sasser found the NBA Draft decision just as pressurized. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson and Fabian White Jr. share a laugh at a press conference. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston assistant coach Kellen Sampson always brings a lot of intensity. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Ramon Walker is getting plenty of hands on teaching from Kelvin Sampson. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jarace Walker figures to help add to all the hardware that the University of Houston basketball has already collected.
Marcus Sasser's shooting stroke is pure. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
UH forward J'Wan Roberts knows you'd better be ready if you play for Kelvin Sampson. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Reggie Chaney. brings it on defense. You have to in Kelvin Sampson's UH program. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Elvin Hayes is still somehow underrated by some people. UH coach Kelvin Sampson thinks he's the ultimate Coog. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Emanuel Sharp admits he sometimes feels like a ghost. Forgotten and unseen. The other member of the University of Houston basketball program’s ballyhooed freshmen class, an infusion of talent that helps make the Cougars a near consensus Top 3 preseason team, are talked about and mentioned much more than Sharp. Jarace Walker is the McDonald’s All-American power forward with serious passing skills. Really serious everything skills. Terrance Arceneaux is the consummate winner and big shot maker.
Sharp? He’s the four star who missed his entire senior season of high school after breaking his fibula and dislocating his ankle in the same leg (the left) in preseason practice. It does not have the same thing to it.
But Emanuel Sharp figures it’s just made him more determined — and committed to making sure people remember him again.
“For sure, I definitely use that as motivation,” Sharp tells PaperCity. “Getting hurt last year. Coming off a big year and just kind of getting hurt and falling under the radar with the rest of my 2022 class.
“Coming into this season as a ghost kind of. And coming into the season to really show what I can do.”
The injury — as devastating as it was, robbing Sharp of the chance to play one more year under his father Derrick Sharp and go for a Florida state championship after advancing to the title game his junior year — did bring one unexpected bonus. It prompted Sharp to enroll in Houston a semester early so he could rehab under the medical tutelage of one of college basketball’s most elite programs.
It essentially gave Emanuel Sharp a head start on his freshman season. There are cheat codes in video games that aren’t this advantageous.
“You just can’t overstate how big of a jump start, a kick start, coming early is for a guy like an Emanuel Sharp, who I think so many people have forgotten about,” UH lead assistant Kellen Sampson tells PaperCity, “in his recruiting class because he didn’t play, got hurt and Jarace is so celebrated. Terrance has had such an awesome high school career, he’s kind of known.
“But Emanuel Sharp, if he had played last summer, but he didn’t because he broke his leg, he’s a guy that could have been a Top 50 national recruit. Could have been on a lot of people’s who’s who list. Then he came to us early and I think people are going to be surprised.
“He’s really good.”
Good enough that Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson has already predicted that Sharp could lead these talented and deep Cougars in scoring in a game or two this season. After all, few freshmen in America are as good at putting the ball in the basket as Emanuel Sharp. He averaged 31.9 points per game as a sophomore in high school, switched schools to play for his dad and still put in 24.7 points per game in a junior season interrupted by COVID.
Emanuel Sharp Goes to Marcus Sasser School
Now, with UH set to begin fall practice next week, Sharp is already learning more tips and little tricks from Marcus Sasser, one of more natural scorers in college basketball and a potential preseason All-American candidate. Sasser considered jumping to the NBA after last season, but withdrew his name from the draft for one final run at UH.
Consider Emanuel Sharp one of those grateful that Sasser is back.
“It really is a blessing,” Sharp says. “Having those type of role models on this team. And having Marcus back is really good because I get to play behind him. And see and learn the ways.”
That is another advantage of Sharp spending last winter and spring with a UH team that’d make an improbable run to the Elite Eight despite injuries that would have crippled most other programs. Sharp got to travel with the Cougars throughout the NCAA Tournament. He got plenty of Kelvin Sampson experience, the should-be Hall of Fame coach who Kellen Sampson half jokes is like the weather. With everyone needing to learn to adjust to how The Weather is feeling about the team that day — and respond accordingly.
“That was another part of coming early and enrolling early,” Sharp says. “Seeing how the game was played, and how we practiced. It showed me what the expectations are.”
For a freshman basketball player at UH, understanding Kelvin Sampson’s relentless expectations is sometimes half the battle. Emanuel Sharp has a head start on that too.
He also hasn’t been forgotten about by his fellow freshmen. Jarace Walker, Terrance Arceneaux and Sharp bonded early. Sharp and Arceneaux even went on their official visit to UH together on the same weekend.
“I have been knowing Jarace for a long time,” Sharp tells PaperCity. “Because he’s best friends with my best friend. And they went to IMG (Academy in Florida) together. Him and Eric Dailey (Jr.). So I’ve known of Jarace for a long time.”
Even while getting a head start on the University of Houston campus, Sharp and Arceneaux, a Texas recruit from not-so-far-away Beaumont, continued to hang out.
“You know on our visit, we bonded immediately,” Sharp says. “Then he just be coming up here, working, going to ball.”
“For sure, I definitely use that as motivation. Getting hurt last year. Coming off a big year and just kind of getting hurt and falling under the radar with the rest of my 2022 class. Coming into this season as a ghost kind of. And coming into the season to really show what I can do.” — Emanuel Sharp
For Sharp, being able to ball again is a joy of its own. He spent much of his early first semester at Houston with director of sports performance Alan Bishop and associate athletics director for sports medicine John Houston, rehabbing that gruesome leg injury.
Now, Sharp’s feeling close to 100 percent, almost relishing the soreness that comes from working out without major limitations.
“I feel fine,” Sharp says. “That’s the best part, having that confidence in my ankle to do certain things. And it’s slowly building back up every day I’m working out.
“That was the whole main reason I came early. . . Getting the rehab early. Getting with Bishop, which is the best thing. He just helped me so much in just a few months from like January to May. So much progress I had coming into this season.
“I wouldn’t have had that if I hadn’t come early.”
UH junior guard Ryan Elvin, who’s been an important practice presence for Final Four and Elite Eight Eight teams, has already been impressed by Sharp and the rest of the highest-rated freshmen class of the already beyond successful Kelvin Sampson era.
“The coaches try to get us to compete with everything and get the new guys all under our culture and way of doing things,” Elvin tells PaperCity. “Practices are really competitive this year.”
Emanuel Sharp is happy to be part of it, doing his thing, scoring often. If this is the ghost life, it’s not so bad. Sharp figures the rest of the basketball world will remember he’s around soon enough.
Check out more of PaperCity’s offseason coverage of University of Houston Basketball:
Kelvin Sampson’s New X-Factor — Texas Tech transfer Mylik Wilson
Gives UH a New Smooth, Athletic Marvel
Kelvin Sampson’s Houston Program is Just Getting Started — College Basketball’s Best “New” Brand Has Growing Power
UH Freshman Terrance Arceneaux Gets Early National Love, NBA Future Talk — But This Four Star Just Wants to Win Big