This week the Tar Heel Blog staff will be handing out postseason awards to wrap up the season that gave us a little bit of everything, for better or worse. Yesterday, Tanya kicked things off with our biggest surprise of the year. Today, we present our Sixth Man of the Year: Day’Ron Sharpe.
Day’Ron Sharpe committed to UNC in June 2018. He would have to wait until November 2019 to sign his letter of intent, and then nearly another year before he could enroll. Day’Ron wanted to be a Tar Heel. And why not? When he committed, Carolina was starting to get its recruiting mojo back, Luke Maye would be graduated, Nassir Little would be one-and-done, and the remaining posts were not as highly decorated, so he’d have a shot at immediate playing time, right?
Well, Armando Bacot committed two months later. Garrison Brooks elevated his play to a level most didn’t expect, and both returned for their sophomore and senior seasons, respectively, Brooks as the preseason ACC Player of the Year. Suddenly, Day’Ron didn’t have a yellow brick road to an immediate starting role.
No matter, the Greenville, NC native got to work and showed immediate potential, particularly with his court awareness and passing. He was equally adept at assisting from the elbow, top of the key, or underneath the basket. Day’Ron passed well enough to validate Roy playing two traditional posts. He completed nifty passes that would make Kendall Marshall nod approvingly:
He was also a tree-trunk of a man. At 6’11”, 265 lbs, Day’Ron is not someone to mess with, and he showed tremendous strength to muscle for rebounds in traffic and got putbacks off the numerous missed shots offered by Carolina’s guards and Garrison Brooks when he attempted turnaround jumpshot after turnaround jumpshot.
Day’Ron was wildly inconsistent to begin the season. He scored single-digits in all three “Maui Invitational” games before scoring 13 at Iowa and 12 at home to NC Central, before returning to single-digit scoring for the next three games. But all Tar Heel fans will remember the home game against Notre Dame when Day’Ron busted out for a season-high 29 minutes and 25 points, to go along with nine rebounds (seven offensive). UNC needed every single one of those points, winning the game by a single point off some Leaky Black nonsense.
He was similarly brutish against Louisville when the Tar Heels romped over the Cardinals to welcome them back from a Covid break, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 boards. In the ACC Tournament, he gave Notre Dame PTSD from their earlier encounter, scoring 14 points on an efficient 7-10 shooting night, and pulled down 10 rebounds (seven offensive).
For a non-starter, he did play decent minutes, averaging 19.2 mpg, and there wasn’t too much wild variance. Sharpe’s 9.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg were respectable, and very comparable to Garrison Brooks’ 10.2/6.9 split in 28 mpg.
Part of what made Carolina fans love Day’Ron Sharpe so much was the same thing that makes you love puppies. Day’Ron was rambunctious, rumbling, raucous, and full of energy. He also pooped in the living room a couple of times, like when he only scored three points in the “Walker Kessler Game” against Florida State or one point against UNLV early in the season in 16 minutes of play, with zero field goal attempts.
But the potential is there for anyone to see. There’s every possibility that this will be the only season in Chapel Hill for young Day’Ron Sharpe. I’m grateful that he committed to Roy Williams eagerly and unwaveringly. He may very well continue a proud tradition of freshmen bigs who didn’t start but were drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft, joining such notables as Marvin Williams and Tony Bradley.
I’m sad that Day’Ron never got to dance at Late Night with Roy. Never got to hang out in the Pit. Never got to enjoy a fall afternoon at Kenan Stadium. His Carolina experience was not like mine, and that’s a crying shame.