Emanuel Sharp has had an impressive breadth of basketball experience for a young man who is set to graduate high school in 2022. Born in Israel to a couple of long-term professional basketball players, Derrick Sharp and Justine Ellison Sharp, he has represented Israel in FIBA U16 Division A competition while making noise in Florida high school basketball. His father had a 16-year playing career with Maccabi Tel Aviv and is now coaching his son at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic HIgh School (FL). The younger Sharp is a 6’4 scoring guard, with a great pull-up game, the requisite frame and strength to get to the basket and plenty of playmaking upside.
Holding offers from Ole Miss, Florida, Houston, Iona, Louisville and South Florida among others, Sharp’s recruitment is far from finished. Also, considering his parents and older brother’s professional experience overseas, he is naturally keeping his options open. As a 15-year-old playing in the 2019 FIBA U16’s for Israel, Sharp led the tournament in scoring at 25 points per game. With last summer’s competition cancelled due to COVID-19, Sharp will look to make up for lost time this summer while representing Israel. Sharp has additional summer plans, as well, when he’ll be playing for E1T1 on the Nike EYBL circuit.
Through 22 games this high school season, Sharp averaged 24.7 points, while Bishop McLaughlin finished as state runner-up in Class 3A. Long on the radar due to his scoring proficiency, Sharp is trying to show he belongs further up the rankings. With supreme confidence and work ethic, he should be a player to watch moving forward and it would not at all be surprising to see his name shoot up the national rankings.
In this interview, we discuss Sharp’s basketball family, his development during this past season, the toughest players he has faced, the experience playing with Israel in FIBA competition, his recruitment, his goals, his personality off the court, how he sees his role in the future, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Emanuel Sharp, from Herzliya, Israel:
Pro Insight: Talk a bit about your background.
ES: So I was born in Israel, both my parents played professional basketball. So all my siblings and I, we all grew up around the game, my mom’s games and my dad’s games. We went to a lot of my dad’s games, all the championships we got to be on the floor and experience how my dad was a professional — we got to be around that type of vibe and it was good for us. I have two older brothers, a younger brother, and a younger sister. My oldest brother plays overseas in Israel, where I’m from, and my other brother is in college right now, he goes to Kalamazoo. It’s in Michigan. I lived in Israel until about 2013 and then we moved to the United States. The rest of my family was already living in Florida and we would come down to visit in the summers, stay for the summer and go back to school. Then in 2013 is when my dad retired, he coached for one or two years and then we moved down here [Florida] full-time. My oldest brother finished high school in Florida and moved back to Israel to play professionally and I’ve been here ever since 4th grade until now.
PI: What was the adjustment like moving from Israel to Florida?
ES: I mean it wasn’t hard because we were coming down here during the summers so I was familiar with everybody here. I was already used to American culture, so it wasn’t that hard.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
ES: I mean I didn’t play any other sports seriously, but I played all different sports growing up in elementary or middle school. I love football, but nothing too serious, I didn’t play football outside of school, it was mainly just basketball. I’m a great shot-creator, I’m a great passer, and I’m just a floor general and leader when I’m on the court.
PI: For those that aren’t super familiar with your game — what are your greatest strengths?
ES: I mean I’m a great combo guard that can score the ball. I get my teammates involved, too. I’m a great shooter — and I have size, too, which helps me when I go to the basket.
PI: What are your current measurements?
ES: I’m 6’4” and about 205-210 pounds right now. I don’t know my wingspan, I just know I’m 6’4” 210.
PI: It looks like you’ve been getting leaner, have you dropped weight this past year?
ES: I actually went on a diet right when I broke my hand, like during that break, and I’ve stayed on it ever since. I’ve lost like 10-15 pounds after I started my diet so it’s been good.
PI: How have you felt it on the court?
ES: I mean, I don’t really feel any different because I’m so used to it, the weight I’m at, but I can definitely tell the difference if I look back. Like if I look back at myself before the season started I can definitely see that I’m bigger, but I’ll notice if I’m jumping, I’ll notice that I’m jumping higher and I feel better on the court because I’m looser. It’s hard to notice, because when you’re at a certain weight you’re kind of used to it, so in the moment I can’t really tell, but when I look back I can definitely see it.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most?
ES: I can still improve on my body, I can slim out even more and add some more muscle and make my motor better on the court. I can work on my defense, like my speed and agility to be able to guard the smaller/quicker guards. That would really help me.
PI: What are some underrated parts of your game you feel you don’t get enough credit for?
ES: Definitely my passing, I’ve noticed that. Like people think I’m a ball-hog, but I think I’m a very underrated passer. If you watch any of my AAU games I’m a very underrated passer, I’m very good at finding my teammates — like bigs in pick-and-roll, I’m a great passer, great lob thrower — like if you see my teammate Dillon Mitchell, I’m throwing him lobs all game. Like I’m looking for him. So I think I have great vision on the court.
PI: Who has been the toughest individual matchup you’ve ever faced?
ES: Definitely Emoni Bates and I would say Marvel Allen on Calvary Christian — he was a tough player to guard in the state championship. Emoni Bates of course, one of the best players in the nation, he’s just unstoppable, I mean he’s a great player. Marvel Allen is great off the dribble, he was breaking down our defense and getting inside, shooting jumpers. I don’t think he missed a jumper in the second half of our state championship game, it was tough. I think he finished with 21 points, that was a lot. Then Emoni he had 35 points on us and 45 points on us in Peach Jam, it was some tough matchups.
PI: Do you model your game after anyone in particular?
ES: I mean I don’t model myself after anybody, but I’ve definitely gotten a lot of comparisons. Like a lot of college coaches and pros have compared me to James Harden, Isaiah Briscoe, and Eric Gordon. Those are the most common comparisons I get.
PI: Describe your experience playing for Israel on their FIBA team. How eye-opening was that experience?
ES: It was a great experience and I’d love to go back. It was a great experience going back there because that was the first time I had been back since moving here full time, so it was a great experience. I got to see my older brother who I hadn’t seen in a few years. To go back and experience a different kind of competition, a different kind of skill-set, I think over here it’s more athleticism and over there it’s more skills and fundamentals. It was great to play against that kind of competition and I think I played well. I was exhausted too during that whole spurt of games, like from traveling. I don’t think I got any rest, I came back from Peach Jam and I was home for like 1-2 days and was right back on a plane to go to Israel. I didn’t get any rest time between AAU and FIBA, but I had to adjust and I think I played pretty well for the situation. It was great, I’m looking forward to going back there this summer again. I’ll be doing either U18’s or U20’s.
PI: Did you notice any changes in your game afterwards?
ES: Well, that team had a lot of ball movement, coming off screens, and those types of plays so it helped me with my off-ball offensive threat. Like me coming off screens, playing off the ball, moving without the ball, I think it improved me in that aspect. I think it improved my three-point shooting, too, because the three-point line is further in Israel than here — so when I got back here I think it made me better because the three-point line was closer. It was a great experience, overall.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself, both as a player and as a person?
ES: I mean definitely this summer is going to be big for my short term goals. To do well this summer, play well with my team E1T1, win a couple EYBL sessions, go to Peach Jam, I really want to win Peach Jam this summer because we came up short last time. That’s one of my short term goals and just to get better over the summer, to improve a lot heading into my senior year ready to make some big moves. And have a decision of what the plans will be after high school, whether it’s college or any other options.
PI: Would you consider playing professionally or overseas in lieu of college?
ES: I mean it’s definitely an option. I’m not going to kick out any options, I like to keep my options open so I have more choices to choose from. I mean who wouldn’t want to play pro but also have the choice to play in college, too. Like you’ve got to choose which one and you see a lot of people, like LaMelo Ball, you see how he turned out going over and playing pro, it made him a better player. So you’ve got to think about that, like which one to pick, so I’d love to have that kind of opportunity.
PI: What are some of your long term goals?
ES: Definitely to make it to the NBA, that’s the ultimate goal, that’s everyone’s ultimate goal pretty much. I’ve got to work for it, to get to that point and when I get to that point I want to succeed even more. Not just get to the NBA and stop — I’d love to make it to the NBA and succeed beyond that.
PI: Walk us through this past season.
ES: I mean it was a great year, even though we came up short in the championship, I think it was great for what we put together this year. It was a new team, new players, we all had to come together and form a chemistry among ourselves and get through COVID — like this year was crazy. Our team had a COVID outbreak and we all took time off, but I think it helped us in the long run. We all came back better after the break and all my teammates played great. It was a great learning opportunity for us this year and we have no seniors this year so we’re going to come back with the same team. Even better next year, I think we’ll have a great run.
PI: How would you describe the basketball culture in both Israel and Florida?
ES: I think in Israel everybody is a die hard fan — there’s a big difference between NBA games and European games. You walk in a European game and you cannot hear at all, there’s horns, drums, fire, it’s crazy. The fans, facepaint, it’s crazy. Everyone is so passionate about it overseas in Europe. Over here [United States], they love it, but you can go to an NBA game and you’re going to hear the ball bouncing on the floor the whole game, like I don’t think the fans are as diehard as they are in Europe, but the whole basketball culture in both is great.
PI: How would you describe your on-court mentality?
ES: I’m looking to win, basically. I’m trying to get my teammates involved and get my own at the same time. I’m going to help my team win as much as possible, whether that’s to get my teammates involved or score the ball. Whatever my coach needs me to do I’m going to do it for him.
PI: You seem like a fearless competitor.
ES: I feel like I don’t get enough recognition for the stuff I do, like a lot of people get recognition, but I still think I’m an underrated player. I feel like people overlook me a lot. I feel like I’m a great player and with my recruitment, the coaches that are recruiting me, they see it, too — and I think that boosts my confidence a lot.
PI: Why do you think you are underrated?
ES: I’m not sure, I really don’t know. I think I’m a great player and there are other great players out there who are getting recognition and I guess it’s just like the opportunities and the situations you’re in, whether you’re seen or not. Rankings don’t really matter to me, but I feel like I should be up there. But at the end of the day it really doesn’t affect me, like I know what I’m capable of and if nobody else has me, I got me. So it doesn’t really matter.
PI: What are some things you bring to a team off the court?
ES: I’m a great teammate, and you can really see that when I was out for the beginning of the season with my broken hand. I was encouraging my teammates on and off the court, on the bench I was hyping them up and when I wasn’t playing I felt like I contributed to the team. Like I helped them win even off the court. Like when I wasn’t playing I was helping them when my teammates were on the court. I’m a great teammate to be around and a great person to have on and off the court. I think my teammates know that and really play to that.
PI: Do you consider yourself to be the leader of the team?
ES: Yeah, I feel like I am one of the leaders of the team, we have multiple leaders. We all can be leaders on our team I feel like. My dad feels that way, too — we have multiple guys on the team that can lead the team and he expects that from them. He has high expectations for us and we know that and we go out there and do it on the court.
PI: What has it been like having your dad as your coach?
ES: I mean I’ve gotten used to it, he’s been my coach since the 4th grade. He knows all my strengths and weaknesses on the court, he’s on me hard, and I need it. He knows what he’s talking about, he’s a pro, and everybody knows that when he’s talking you have to listen, he’s a pro. He’s been there, he’s done that, so why not try to take that knowledge? It’s helped me as a player and developed me into who I am now, I wouldn’t be who I am if he wasn’t my coach.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
ES: I mean the latest teams, I’m in contact with Louisville a lot. I was just on the phone with Coach Sampson of Houston when he offered me. I’ve been talking to Arizona a lot, and Iona. Iona is on me pretty hard. Those are the top teams that are recruiting me right now.
PI: Are those all the schools you’re hearing from the most?
ES: Yeah, right now. Iona, USF...I talk to USF a lot too, Louisville, Arizona...yeah.
PI: Did you ever expect to be receiving this much attention?
ES: I mean not really, I used to think about that kind of stuff, but I never knew that it would be like this. I always thought that I would find one school and that would be the school I go to. I didn’t expect to have this many colleges coming at me, but it’s a dream come true, honestly. Like when I was younger I used to think about this kind of stuff. In 9th grade going into 10th grade, after I got my first couple offers, it really opened my eyes to the type of player that I could become. It really boosted my confidence to know that I have the potential to be that kind of player at the next level and it’s just helped me from there on out.
PI: Did you have a dream school growing up?
ES: I liked North Carolina and Florida growing up, but now that I’ve grown to see all these other schools like it hasn’t really played into my decision on where I’m going to go. I grew up having a dream school, but now it’s not really a factor to me.
PI: What are you ultimately looking for in a school of choice?
ES: I’m looking for a great coach and a great system that I can play into that will help me grow as a player. Player development is also good, like what’s good about going to a college if it’s not going to make you better in the long run? So I’m looking for a school with a great coach, development program, and system I can fit into to help me propel to the next level.
PI: What kind of system best fits your strengths as a player?
ES: I would think like a lot of guard play, screen and roll, that type of offense and that type of system I would play good with. Like on the ball, off the ball. Like I know Louisville is big on that and Houston had said they are big on guard play and screen and rolls and that type of stuff so that’s a plus for me.
PI: What type of role do you see yourself filling at the next level?
ES: I would think that it would be the same or similar to my role at the high school level, but I think it would be a smaller role for me though. I still will come in and score the ball, it’s not going to change my game. I’m still going to go out there and play my game. I’m still going to be able to score the ball, find my teammates, play defense. The same role I have now just at a way higher level because it’s going to be at the next level.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
ES: I think success is when you have a goal in mind and you go out there and you do it — you complete the goal. Like you’re thriving through what you had in mind, like if you have a set goal and you complete that goal and are continuing to complete that goal, you’re succeeding. You had a vision and you’re succeeding at completing that vision.
PI: What do you personally feel you’ll need to accomplish in your career in order for you to become satisfied?
ES: For me to succeed I would have to get to the next level, college and the NBA. Then once I get to the NBA I want to make a difference, be one of the top players of all time. For people to look back and know my name within basketball history and basketball culture. I want to be able to make a difference in the NBA, not just on the court, but off the court too.
PI: What are some things you would want to do off the court to make a difference?
ES: I mean giving back to the community, basically like what LeBron is doing, all the things he’s doing with his schools, the pushes he’s doing for social justice and stuff like that. He’s the epitome of what off the court success means as a professional player, like when you think of success off the court you have to look at LeBron because he’s doing some amazing things and that’s the type of stuff I would want to do, too.
PI: What would you say is the smartest purchase you’ve ever made?
ES: Purchase? I don’t make a lot of purchases. I’m not sure I’ve made a lot of smart purchases [laughs]. I don’t know, I don’t really buy a lot of things, and the stuff I do buy is irrelevant stuff like shoes, video games, stuff like that. I haven’t really made an important purchase in my life, yet.
PI: Do you have a favorite book?
ES: Definitely the Harry Potter series or the Percy Jackson series, the greatest books of all time hands down. What makes them great is just the story lines and the characters, it’s unheard of. The types of adventures between Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, it’s like you’re watching a movie, but you’re reading it. I used to read those books over and over and over. It’s such a great plot and it taps into your imagination when you’re reading the book and I think that’s what makes the book great.
PI: What house would you be sorted into?
ES: Definitely not Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, I think it’d be Gryffindor, I’m not a Slytherin type of guy and I’m not smart enough to be in Ravenclaw [laughs]. So I think I’d be in Gryffindor.
PI: Talk about your most embarrassing moment.
ES: I actually do have one — I think I was in 6th grade and I had a crush and her dad was the janitor. We were all at lunch and it was like the entire 6th grade was in the cafeteria at the same time and I remember one of my friends told the janitor that I liked his daughter. They used to have a microphone in the cafeteria and the janitor got the microphone and he was like, “Emanual Sharp please stand up!” and I stood up in front of the whole cafeteria and he was like, “So I heard you have a crush on my daughter and I just want to let you know, it’s never going to happen!” and everybody was like, “ohhhh!” and that was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.
PI: Talk about your favorite all-time memory on the basketball court.
ES: My favorite moment is when I was around seven years old and I was in Israel. I think it was my first game ever in organized basketball, I was playing up against like 10 years olds and me and my brother were on the same team. It was one of my furthest shots I think for my age, it was like at the top of the key and I dribbled and did a step-back and I shot it and banked it in. I felt so cool, like that was my first bucket. It’s on my dad’s YouTube video page and I think it’s the first video he ever posted of me. I just banked it in and it was one of my first shots and it felt great.
PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
ES: I don’t know, I’d have to think about that one. Just people being disrespectful and annoying, I hate that. Like in the classroom when kids are being super annoying to a certain teacher that gets on my nerves. That kind of stuff, it makes me uncomfortable.
PI: Do you have any regrets?
ES: No, it’s too early to have any regrets right now for me. Maybe if you ask me in 30 years I might have a few regrets, but right now I don’t have any regrets, like nothing bad has happened and I think everything happens for a reason. My dad’s big on that, ‘everything happens for a reason,’ and nothing regretful has happened in my life yet...knock on wood.
PI: Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your life up to this point?
ES: For sure my dad, hands down. He’s taught me everything I know from my shot, how to act on the court, what to do on the court, how to play. Off the court he’s my role model for everything I do in life pretty much.
PI: Would you say you rely more on your natural talent and ability or on your work ethic?
ES: I would think what makes a good player is a combination of both. You’re not going to make it very far with just talent, but you can only get so far with work ethic, too. You need a good mixture of both to make it in the basketball world — you’re not going to make it just purely off talent. I think when you have both that’s what makes a great player.
PI: Who’s someone you really look up to?
ES: I look up to my mom a lot, I mean she’s had a lot of experience in her life and is a great player herself. She’s done a lot in her life along with my dad, I look up to both my parents a lot. They’re great role models to me and are both great players for me to look up to. Like my mom has done so much, she’s in the Canadian Hall of Fame. She was Athlete of the Year multiple times and she’s just a great person, a great woman. I look up to both of them a lot.
PI: With both your dad and mom being former players, what have they instilled in you over the years?
ES: They have given me everything basically, they’ve instilled a lot of work ethic in me. They expect me to work hard on and off the court, in the classroom too, they’re big on that. They push me as hard as they can. It’s made me a better person and player and I’m very grateful for that.
PI: How much confidence does it give you as a player seeing your parents and brother play professionally?
ES: It gives me a lot of confidence. That’s what I play off on the court, is confidence. You’ve got to have a lot of confidence to take shots, be a leader, and play that kind of role on the team it takes a lot of confidence. People ask me, “how do you shoot so well? How do you take those type of shots?” I’ve grown up with confidence, like my whole life I’ve played with a bunch of confidence and I think that’s how you’ve got to play all the time. You’re not going to play well if your confidence is terrible. It’s mental. The game is mental and you’ve got to have a confident mentality on the court and I’ve played that way and it’s helped me a lot.
PI: Have you always had confidence or is that something you grew into?
ES: I think I’ve had it from day one. Playing up gave me a lot of confidence, I’ve always played up starting from 7 years old playing against kids who were 9, 10, 11 years old and it’s built my confidence up to the point where it never breaks, I think. I might have times where I’m a little doubtful after losses and stuff like that, but I always bounce back and my confidence is always there and it really helps me.
PI: Talk about a time or story in your life that you feel has really shaped who you are today.
ES: I think growing up with as many siblings as I did, like with my brothers, I think that shaped me into the type of person I am. My brother, Gabriel, he’s been there my whole life and he’s really helped me a lot, like beating up on me. I think it builds character to have older siblings there with you and my oldest brother, like being with him and growing up with him my whole life has really helped me a lot and shaped me into who I am. Having an older brother to look up to when I’m growing up has put me to where I am today.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
ES: I don’t really receive a lot of advice, but before every game my dad tells my team to play hard, play together, and have fun. Like to have fun is pretty much the best advice I’ve ever gotten from my dad. In like anything I do, always have fun, like there can be serious things, but if you always look to have fun it’s going to make you...like I hate people that are playing so serious all the time, you’ve got to have that type of light in whatever you’re doing to have fun with it as well. You can be as serious as you want, but if you’re not having fun then what’s the point of you doing it? You’ve got to have fun at whatever you’re doing, at the end of the day it’s still a game.
PI: How have you handled and responded to adversity in your life?
ES: I think I really experienced that this year with my injury. I broke my shooting hand and I thought as soon as I broke it like, “ah man I’m never going to be able to shoot the same again.” I was really depressed about it. But I think going through that whole process of having surgery, pins in my hand, rehab, all that built me as a person and as a player and that really really helped me in the off-season. I think that shaped how my season went, my season would’ve been different if I didn’t break my hand. That’s why my dad says, “everything happens for a reason” and he thinks I broke my hand for a reason — God broke my hand to teach me a lesson and it helped me in the long run.
PI: How did it help you in the long run?
ES: First off it helped me with my diet, I think that started my diet. Then it helped me see that stuff can happen so quick, like in a few seconds I missed three months of the season. Like one reach broke my hand, three months gone and surgery. It really puts it into perspective like how short your career can be and it helps you love the game even more.
PI: If you woke up tomorrow to see a fortune in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?
ES: Definitely buy my mom a new car, a new phone because her phone is old. She definitely needs a new car because that thing is janky and needs to go. I’d let them take a break, my mom’s a teacher, they both teach, and that’s like my biggest goal. If I make it, they won’t have to work, like your parents take care of you your whole life and then you can make it and take care of them. Who wouldn’t want that? Like that’s great. So just having that money, you could do a lot.
PI: What are you most passionate about outside of the game of basketball?
ES: I love my friends and I love video games as well [laughs]. Those are pretty much the two things I’m passionate about, my relationships with my friends and my video games.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
ES: I mean, not in sports I think I’d be a photographer or something like that. I took a photography class my first two years of high school. I love dancing and singing, I love that type of stuff. I’m a great actor, my mom always tells me that I'm a very dramatic person and I think that would help me. I’d be a very dramatic actor. Within sports I’d definitely try to be a football player, I love football. Like other than basketball, football is my favorite sport. I love watching football, playing football, and Madden. I love Madden more than NBA 2K to be honest and I think I’d be a great football player.
PI: You played when you were younger, right?
ES: I played flag football in middle school, I was pretty good at it, but my dad is not into tackle with all the head injuries, brain injuries, damage and stuff like that he’s not with it. He was a football player and every time I’d ask him, “let me play tackle football” he’d be like, “you are crazy, I’m not letting you play tackle football.”
PI: What position do you think you would play?
ES: I think I’d be either a TE, LB, or a RB too, like a power back. Like Derrick Henry type of player.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
ES: Comedic. Relaxed. Passionate. Vibrant.
PI: If someone were to write a book or a movie about your life, what would be the title?
ES: I think it would be called The Bright Star or something like that. Yeah it’d be something like that, think about it, both parents are professional basketball players, they have a kid, and it’s like he’s meant to play basketball. It’d be a great movie.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
ES: On the court, a great player, a great teammate, and a great person to be around. Like a killer on the court, but off the court he’s the nicest dude ever and like a person that was for his people, a person that cared and didn’t just make it and stop doing stuff. I want to be remembered for doing things outside of basketball.
Watch the full interview with Emanuel, here