College basketball’s tallest player: Profiling Jamarion Sharp’s rise to stardom
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Every time the WKU basketball team’s starting lineups are announced in front of the faithful E.A. Diddle Arena fans, the words “the actual big man in the middle” from the public address announcer send shivers down Hilltoppers’ center Jamarion Sharp’s spine.
“It’s so exciting. But I’ve also been called things like ‘a giant teddy bear’ before. I know, it’s weird,” Sharp laughingly says about his outstanding size.
Standing at 7′5, Sharp isn’t just the nation’s tallest college basketball player. He’s also one of the tallest people in the world. That’s something that he now takes pride in, but that came with time.
“At first it was like, kind of awkward. People would just stare at me and take pictures and videos. It really is all about confidence though. I’ll talk to people who come up to me and ask how tall I am and stuff. So I just embrace it.”
He began building that confidence at Hopkinsville High School where he suited up for the Tigers from 2015 to 2019, averaging almost eight rebounds and points per game his senior year. His efforts earned him All-8th District Honors and landed him an offer from his dream school: Western Kentucky.
Wanting to improve his game though, he opted to play for Kyle Smithpeters at John A. Logan College for two years.
“John A. Logan set the basis for college,” Sharp says.
247Sports ranked Sharp as the top-ranked junior college player his sophomore year, averaging almost eight points and six blocks per game. He also gained weight, going from 205 to 235 pounds.
So his dream school came knocking with another offer.
“He did put the work and time in. So you have to give him all the credit and accolades because he earned it,” Smithpeters said.
The accolades came along in Sharp’s first season with WKU. He currently leads the NCAA in blocked shots with 142 and has been named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. He’s also currently a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year semifinalist.
“I know I can relish this because I earned it. I know all my hard work has been paying off.”
Even bigger than Sharp’s size has been his heart though, says his current head coach.
“The minute Jamarion stepped on campus, what stood out was his personality,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said.
His junior college coach agrees.
“He’s such a selfless person and he just makes everyone around him better,” Smithpeters said.
The Hilltoppers will look to add another trophy to Sharp’s case as they embark on their chase for a Conference USA title this week. But regardless of the outcome, the “actual big man in the middle” is now on everyone’s radar.
“He will enter the offseason with quite a bit of hype,” Stansbury said.
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