Shaedon Sharpe, 18, can apply for 2022 NBA draft after joining Kentucky Wildcats in January

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Flashback: Shaedon Sharpe soars for alley-oop (0:19)

Kentucky guard and former No. 1 player in ESPN's 2022 recruiting rankings Shaedon Sharpe gets up high to throw down an alley-oop despite being fouled. (0:19)

Shaedon Sharpe, who was ESPN's No. 1 prospect in the 2022 high school class before he joined the Kentucky Wildcats in early January, can apply for the 2022 NBA draft as an early-entry candidate, a source told ESPN on Thursday.

Sharpe started the current school year at Dream City Christian in the Phoenix area, but he had sufficient credits to graduate from high school before the start of the NBA season in October. He committed to Kentucky in September and then decided to arrive in Lexington early and enroll at the beginning of January.

He is currently practicing with the Wildcats and is eligible to play, but he has not yet participated in any games, something that might change in the coming weeks depending on the inclination of the coaching staff, led by John Calipari.

Sharpe turns 19 on May 30 and thus meets the age requirement for the NBA draft, along with being one NBA season removed from high school graduation.

A little-known prospect unranked by recruiting services at the beginning of the 2020-21 high school season, Sharpe led the prestigious Nike EYBL in scoring this past July, making a dramatic rise to the No. 1 spot in the ESPN 100 before signing with Kentucky.

Sharpe is considered a potential top-five pick in the 2022 NBA draft thanks to his combination of prototypical frame with dynamic shot-making and explosive finishing ability, regularly coming up with highlight-reel-caliber dunks, blocks and putbacks.

Although slated as the No. 6 prospect in the ESPN Top 100 for the 2022 NBA draft, Sharpe has not yet made his intentions known regarding his plans for the upcoming draft, which likely will depend at least partially on whether he plays this season. He could ultimately elect to wait until the 2023 NBA draft, especially if he does not suit up for Kentucky this season.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.