Sharpe dreams to play two sports

JACKSONVILLE — David Sharpe (6-7, 310, Jacksonville, FL Providence) had a couple of those moments Saturday night when he got in touch with his inner point guard. In the second quarter, he took a pass from Christian Terrell, jab stepped to his left and then put the ball on the deck on one of those get in my way and you’ll pay with your life drives to the rack. He adjusted the shot in midair to avoid reaching arms but that altered it just enough that it wouldn’t drop. Still, he got fouled and got to the line where he showed a nice, feathery touch. Later, during a 16-3 third quarter run by the Providence Stallions, he had another ball on the deck drive to the rim, but this time he mistimed his jump just a tad and pinned the ball on the bottom of the rim.

On a night when Providence dismantled the Arlington Country Day Apaches, 93-74, at the University of North Florida Arena, there was never a question who was having the most fun. Football is David Sharpe’s main sport and that’s the one that holds his future. Basketball is sheer joy and it’s so much fun that he’s hoping he gets a chance to play both sports at the next level.

Sharpe has had conversations with all the schools that are recruiting him for football about playing basketball as well and there is no question that he could bring some value to a team even if he joins sometime in January after football season has concluded. There aren’t many players his size who could eat up that much space in the paint.

Considering he would be on football scholarship and therefore wouldn’t count against the 13-scholarship Division I basketball limit, having an extra five fouls to give could be advantageous. Sharpe believes he could contribute.

“I really do want to play two sports,” Sharpe said after a 10-point, 10-rebound performance. “Football is my main sport, of course, but if I can, I want to play basketball, too. I think I could help someone win.”

Florida assistant coaches John Pelphrey and Rashon Burno were there at Saturday’s game, primarily to catch Brandone Francis (6-6, 210, La Romana, Dominican Republic/Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day), who signed his Florida letter of intent back in November, but they got a good look at Sharpe, who, while challenged a bit offensively, showed that he could more than hold his own against a tall Arlington Country Day front line that went 6-8, 6-8, 6-6.

If Sharpe were to choose Florida for football, head coach Billy Donovan has always held the door open for football players who got permission from their coach to lend a hand to the basketball team. The last time that happened was Cornelius Ingram, who played off the UF bench with the Oh-Fours during their freshman season.

Sharpe has no illusions about his game and knows what he can contribute to a basketball team.

Sharpe will make a final decision about where he’s playing football next year on Thursday. There will be no delays and also there will no hat ceremony when he makes his decision between Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Georgia and Florida State.

It’s going to be show up, make the announcement and get it over with.

“I’m ready for it to all be over with,” he said. “No hats. Just an announcement. I haven’t really made up my mind yet, but Florida and Tennessee talk to me every single day.”

Currently, Florida doesn’t have an offensive coordinator or line coach, but Sharpe seemed unconcerned.

“Coach (Muschamp) says we’ll know in January,” Sharpe said. “I trust him. I know he’s going to bring in the right coaches.”

SCOUTING REPORT: If he does play basketball in addition to football in college, his value will be as a wide body who can play adequate defense and keep the lane clear for a few minutes while spotting the starters. Sharpe has no illusions about being a star on the basketball court at the next level but he loves the game and isn’t quite ready to give it up.

Against Arlington, he showed surprising quickness and nimble feet. He put the ball on the floor three times and wasn’t the least bit awkward dribbling the ball. He is nobody’s high riser so he plays below the rim. He said he’s 310 and pushing 315, which is ideal weight for an offensive tackle, but the kind of weight which will affect his elevation.

Of the teams that are recruiting him, the two that would stand out the most for a football-basketball future are Florida and Georgia. Unless Damontre Harris gets back in the good graces of Billy Donovan or there is a spring signee, the Gators will be lacking size in the low blocks so having a 5X5X5 guy (five minutes, five rebounds, five fouls) guy could be helpful. Georgia football coach Mark Richt has a history of letting football players dabble in basketball.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.