The Drew League’s “Just Do It” series will highlight how members of the extended Drew League family use the Drew as a platform for making their craziest dreams happen through the game of basketball and life.
Since the advent of social media, every young hooper dreams of going viral. With the popularity of platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, it seems like all it takes is one moment, one move, one world-shaking dunk or crossover, to become an overnight celebrity. For Shannon Sharpe, that moment came in 2016 when he recovered a blocked shot and took off from the dotted line to throw down a tremendous one-hand hammer on a defender that became an instant viral sensation and the dunk of the year.
He may play humble, but that moment took him from a relatively solid but obscure bench point guard for Colorado University and Cal Poly Pomona who just happened to share a name with a slightly more famous athlete to a veritable online All-Star (the similarity is one of the reasons he often insists on the “Shannin” spelling). The official Drew League video of the dunk on Youtube accumulated nearly 50,000 views, making Sharpe a capital-N Name at the Drew League.
That would have been that, but then, in a game for Nick Young’s Most Hated Players in Week 4 of this past season, he again took flight against Team Watson, leaping from just outside the lane to smash in a towering tomahawk over Team Watson’s Leland King, posing for the camera as he landed, knowing that he’d yet again secured a dunk of the year.
Yet, he still relishes the notoriety the Drew League has bestowed upon him in the past few seasons.
“People definitely recognize me a little more because of that,” he says. “Everybody talks about me as being a dunker. I’ll take it, it’s fun.”
But for all the renown that’s fallen into his lap over the pair of highlights, for Sharpe, the true value of playing in the Drew League is that he gets to stay in shape and continue competing in the game he loves against top competition—the rest is just icing on the cake.
“It’s great for the offseason [because] it’s great competition night in, night out,” he says. “You get to play against some pros. Like everybody says, you gotta bring your A-game, regardless of who you are.”
However, for Shannon, that door swings both ways, as the relative unknown gets to share the court with nationally recognized stars like Nick Young, DeMar DeRozan and Jordan Clarkson as a member of MHP. His Drew connections placed him on the team, but it was his work ethic and on-court performance that secured his spot on the squad.
“I was asleep and Bear Clarkson (Jordan’s younger brother) woke me up like, ‘You wanna play?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’ I texted Adrian like, ‘Give me a jersey,’ and he gave me a jersey. He said, ‘You got one shot’ and I had a good game and we’ve been rocking ever since.”
From redshirting at Colorado, to trying out for a Drew League team in his native hometown of Corona, CA, to racking up dunk highlights and becoming an internet celebrity for his high-flying exploits and a Drew All-Star for his high-level play alongside genuine stars, Shannon is making some of his craziest basketball dreams come true, but he remains humble as his profile rises.
“It’s a good feeling [being recognized from Drew League social videos],” he says. “It’s good to be recognized for something positive.”
Basketball took him from Corona to college, and Drew League helped him become a role model for the next generation of young basketball stars watching highlights online and dreaming of starring in their own.